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John asks tourism industry to focus more on rural areas than city

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By Divya Thotawatte

There are plans to move hotels and hospitality institutes to outstations, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said this week addressing a gathering at the Sri Lanka Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) Graduation Ceremony.

“The number of hotels that are coming up in the city is unbelievable. We are exploring the possibility of limiting the number of hotels coming up in the city, and encourage them to go out of the city. I would like to appeal particularly to the younger people who are in districts like Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kandy and other parts of Sri Lanka as well,” said Amaratunga emphasising the importance of the hospitality industry outside of Colombo. 

The Minister said that the Govt. is looking forward to the development of the tourism industry.  At the moment, the industry is close to second place in foreign exchange. Last year they ended up with almost $3 billion and this year the Ministry hopes to go up to $4 billion. Other industries that got foreign exchange through exports have gone down. Without importing raw materials, tourism could earn sufficient foreign exchange for the welfare and benefit of the country.

“We find it very difficult to attract young people to come join the industry and get training from here. There is a huge amount of privileges that they get once they have the training in the hospitality industry. More of these graduates have been swallowed up by the industry before they graduate. There is a demand for employment by the hoteliers for trained persons. If you join this industry you get accommodation and a service charge in addition to your salary,” he added.

SLITHM Director General Buddhika Hewawasam commenting on the future of the institution said, “We are working on expanding our particular geographical locations. That is to have more centres where people can access our campuses. So in that context, we started the centre in Jaffna from which 110 people already graduated.”‍

Pix by Shehan Gunasekara


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