By Charumini de Silva
The newly-formed Tourism Event Management Unit of Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) yesterday kicked off the first in a series of training programs on ‘Health and Wellness Tourism’ primarily targeting the Ayurvedic sector.
The institute launched a series of workshops and training programs aimed at uplifting the tourism business operational knowledge, skills and competencies of industry stakeholders, where participants will be issued a certificate at the completion of the workshop. The program content and resource persons will be sourced through joint collaboration of SLITHM, industry professionals, academia and relevant regulatory authorities.
SLITHM Chairman Sunil Dissanayake said the program was in line with the Tourism Development Ministry’s broad national objective of providing a range of training opportunities for industry stakeholders to grow their tourism related businesses through better operational knowledge, skills and competencies.
Stating that the institute has primarily focused on hotel management and hospitality during the past 50 years, he said SLITHM was keen to play a leading role in the invigoration of the tourism industry and has set in motion a three-year Strategic Direction Plan from 2016-2018.
“It is important to provide tourism-related professional education with a certification. Health and Wellness is a key area that lacks professional education. We need to provide them with training beyond the technicalities in Ayurvedic spa treatments,” he added.
He said Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) would soon gazette new regulations to firms that are engaged in the Ayurvedic spas and various other tourism related areas for licensing and certification to standardise the industry.
“The new regulations are not to control, but to standardise and provide better facilities for value additions. This is to enhance the quality of our services and standardise the sector,” Dissanayake added.
Highlighting the opportunities in health and wellness tourism Hettigoda Group Managing Director Asoka Hettigoda said Sri Lanka was well positioned to attract travellers towards this sector, but stressed the need for more trained professionals.
With ageing population and economic growth in the Asian region is on the rise, while people are more concerned about organic, natural ingredients based products, he said there are many growing opportunities for ayurvedic wellness sector.
However, he stressed on the importance of maintaining international standards and commitment towards quality assurance and transparency to catch the attention of global travelers to Sri Lanka ayurvedic health and wellness industry.
Aligned to cater to the growing tourism industry manpower requirements, SLITHM has expanded its reach by establishing new colleges to attract young students into the sector and train unemployed youth in the rural and suburban areas. In addition, SLITHM has also been striving to upgrade the standard of education in the tourism and hospitality industry through international collaboration.
Pix by Ruwan Walpola