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Tourism targets 7,000 jobs for 2017


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  • Campuses to be built in remote areas for training at subsidised rate 

 

By Poorabi Gaekwad 

The tourism industry is gearing up to tackle potential human resources shortages by ramping up its training around the country and believes it can offer competitive salary rates to keep employees from migrating.  

Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management Chairman Sunil Dissanayake told Daily FT he does not see a worker shortage in the tourism and hospitality sector, insisting it was “only a matter of perception rather than reality.” 

“We may have had a shortage in the last five-six years, but now that gap is closing,” says Dissanayake. “In Sri Lanka, you can earn as much as you earn in the Middle East.” 

One of the biggest goals of the Sri Lankan Government is to reach a target of four million tourist arrivals by 2020. 

With the tourism sector finally gaining momentum after the war, industries like hospitality and tourism are set to be the key factors in leading the country’s economic growth and driving it straight into the likes of Australia and China. 

While there may have been a 4.8% increase in tourist arrivals since January, May 2017 alone has experienced a 2.5% decrease in the same. The Sri Lankan Government has had numerous policies and goals in place to give this sector a boost. 

As the industry gears up to meet the four million mark, there is also some concern about oversupply, which may cause increased levels of competition throughout the sector in the coming years. It is also becoming increasingly important to expand low-quality transport infrastructure, especially in the central and relatively remote eastern areas of the island. The lack of a large pool of well-trained tourism employees has always been a perennial concern among hotel operators. 

Therefore the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management has worked towards increasing opportunities for skilled workers in remote areas. With a target of creating 7,000 jobs this year, the Government’s initiative includes expanding outreach by building more campuses catering specifically to the skill requirement needed to work in the hospitality sector, officials said.

At an exhibition to showcase Hotel Show Colombo 2017, Dissanayake dismissed any clarification on the issue of the salary structure of a skilled worker, saying he believes that people need to be educated about the fact that there are opportunities in the hotel business and that there is no reason to migrate to a different country to work when Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector has a competitive salary level. 

“Even remote areas have hotel schools - private and government. We can see that with the trend of so many new international names coming in, even from remote areas also, people love to be trained,” says Institute of Hospitality Chairman Thusith Samaraweera. “There’s a change coming in with so many hotels coming up.”

Samaraweera also believes that this increase in jobs is also because the service charge at a small three star hotel in remote areas is good, around Rs. 20,000.


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