This year’s World Tourism Day will be celebrated under the theme of ‘Tourism – Linking Cultures’ set by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. The main focus of this year’s theme is to foster awareness among the international community of the value of tourism and its cultural impact and to gain experience in understanding cultural diversity.
The key focus of this year’s celebration would be to empower youth to consider the hospitality industry as a profession to embark on career development and participate in the economic growth of the country, thereby making Sri Lanka the wonder of Asia. The core idea is to address the future leaders of the country and encourage them to join tourism industry, which will be equal to any other profession and to reduce the brain drain.
Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka Chairman and CEO Dhammika Hewapathirana said it was an important time to give serious consideration to aligning the education system in this country to cater to the development of resources and identified industries that could make a difference in developing the country’s economy.
“Tourism industry is based on services. Sri Lanka needs to take crucial steps to build a pool of efficient trained people that fits into various job opportunities in the industry,” he said.
The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Anura Lokuhetty said World Tourism Day was one of the most significant days to be celebrated in Sri Lanka particularly under the theme of ‘Tourism – Linking Cultures,’ where the country itself has a great diversity in cultures.
As per the Presidents target of 2.5 million tourist arrivals in 2016, there will be direct and indirect employment opportunities for at least 500,000 people. This figure will be increased to four million tourist arrivals and the targeted income generation would be US$ eight billion, he said.Considering the future requirements, THASL has joined hands with the VTA to provide facilities which is expected by industry to enhance the livelihood of Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said: “It is heartening to see that all stakeholders are coming together to celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day, undertaking various activities in Colombo and regions to display the priority areas being addressed, among which is human resource development. The programmes that are planned are focused on creating awareness among the youth and school children on the prospects of future hospitality industry, apart from bringing the cultures together, in line with the theme of Tourism Day.”