Incoming President Sanjeeva Perera lights the oil lamp. Others from left: Priyal Perera (Vice President), Samantha Gunaratne (Vice President), Sunil Dissanayake (Outgoing President), Minister John Amaratunga (Chief Guest) and Paddy Vithana (Guest of Honour)
Sanjeeva Perera, General Manager, Bentota Beach by Cinnamon elected as President; Says Association has a clear vision to develop Tourism in Sri Lanka
The Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga was the Chief Guest of the 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Ceylon Hotel School Graduate Association (CHSGA) whose members are the alumni of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (SLITHM). The AGM was held on 24 September at Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort and Spa. Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Paddy Vithana who is also a member and Past President of the CHSGA was the Guest of Honour at this prestigious event.
Addressing the gathering, the Minister thanked CHSGA for inviting him as the Chief Guest and also for the opportunity granted him to address many industry professionals who attended the event. He acknowledged that he was proud to be associated with the CHSGA which was formed in 1971 serving the Hospitality and Tourism Industry in a big way over the past 45 years.
The Minister went on to say that The Ceylon Hotel School which is now known as the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism Management (SLITHM) is the most recognised institute for Hospitality Management in the country and that they have continuously delivered professionals of very high standards for the development of the industry in Sri Lanka. He praised the CHSGA for their support extended in different ways for the development of the SLITHM while offering scholarships for the students to progress in their careers, and also for initiating and continuing several CSR programs for the benefit of the country.
The minister was extremely appreciative of the CHSGA and assured that as the minister he would give his fullest support to CHSGA and all other tourism related associations working jointly for the betterment of the country’s tourism industry.
The minister also stated, “As the Tourism Minister, my vision is to further upgrade the facilities and infrastructure of the hospitality industry in Sri Lanka and look forward to reaching the mark of 3.5 million tourists by the year 2020. Also, we need to make the tourism industry of Sri Lanka the number one foreign exchange earner in the country.”
At the AGM, Sanjeeva Perera – General Manager, Bentota Beach by Cinnamon was elected as the President of CHSGA while Samantha Gunaratne – Chief Operating Officer, Zinc Hotels and Resorts Lanka Ltd. and Priyal Perera – Managing Director, JYSPER Marketing Services were elected as the Joint Vice Presidents. Asela Wavita – General Manager, Water Garden Sigiriya was appointed as the General Secretary while Upul Attapattu – General Manager, Colombo Swimming Club was appointed as the Treasurer of CHSGA for the year 2016/17.
Sanjeeva Perera – the newly inducted President of CHSGA in his inaugural address said, “It would be mandatory upon us to contribute our might to educate, train and empower people to exploit the potential of Tourism in Sri Lanka to the fullest. Many industries have faced the plight of being forced to import expertise and labour already. Surely, we don’t want to allow ours to be faced with the same dilemma!”
“Many of us could remember an era when tourism, and more specifically the hotel industry, was a preferred career choice among youth. Our industry must be ushered back to that position in the hearts and minds of our people. We need to deal with the dynamics of professional awareness for skilled personnel in accordance with global trends and developments. Definitive steps must be taken to create positive vibes in the hearts and minds of society at large, starting perhaps at school level. Our association has a clear vision to develop Tourism in Sri Lanka with a steady mission path in achieving that,” he added.
Over 400 CHSGA members from Middle to Senior Management in the Hospitality and Tourism Sector including CEOs and hotel owners attended the AGM. 90% of the senior management of all hotels in Sri Lanka are graduates of the SLITHM and members of the CHSGA.
CHSGA was established in 1971 three years after the inauguration of the Ceylon Hotel School at the Samudra building at Galle Face by the first batch of graduates who passed out. CHSGA comprises of many eminent individuals who are leading personalities in the Hotel and Tourism industry today. The association was incorporated by Parliament Act No 21 of 1984. At present the total membership is over 1,100 members. CHSGA is the only recognised, professional local body that represents graduates, diploma holders, professionals and hoteliers who have passed out of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM). The main focus of CHSGA at present is to support the industry to increase the manpower need to meet the demand of trained staff to cater to the expected target of 3.5 million tourists by the year 2020.