Sri Lanka with its transcendent beaches and beautiful mountain ranges is vastly considered to be one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Tourism contributes a significant percentage (12.6% in 2018) to Sri Lanka’s GDP, and the businesses across the sector are struggling significant drops in tourist numbers. There has been a 70% drop in the tourism sector affecting the livelihoods of over 200,000 people.
The SME Sector Development Programme of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ Sri Lanka), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Development & Cooperation, identified the need for supporting Sustainable Tourism in the country. The latest activity facilitated through this project took place on 29 December 2022; ‘The Sri Lanka Tourism Resilience Networking and Industry Event’. It was held at Hatch – a co-working space that drives innovation and sustainability across different sectors in the country. The event discussed the pathways to a more resilient tourism and hospitality industry by reshaping it through technology. The focus of the event was to bridge the gap between E-learning and training that would benefit the Sri Lankan tourism sector. The event highlighted the ‘Atingi’ digital learning platform, an e-Learning site which offers an effective, scalable and sustainable way to implement digital learning.
The courses and services offered by the Atingi eAcademy platform gears itself to furthering not only the individual user’s knowledge but also roots its focus in “enabling business development services geared to achieving international competitiveness, improved inclusiveness and environmental sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises in Sri Lanka”. With the content geared towards the improvement of vocational skills, its payoff lends to increasing the employability of its Sri Lankan users within the tourism industry.
Atingi currently offers more than 40 free interactive courses surrounding topics related to tourism and hospitality. Each course is immersive offering new skills and knowledge necessary for success within the industry for both newcomers and industry veterans. The highly flexible and curative nature of the eAcademy means that learners can tailor their learning journey to fit their individual needs and existing knowledge.
The eAcademy takes into account not only access but also lifestyle and creates a flexible environment that allows its users to use the platform 24/7. With no time constraints Atingi allows its users to learn and absorb at their own pace, the platform also allows for collaborative learning for those who require extra support. Upon the successful completion of modules, users are awarded digital certificates to signpost their achievements and provide physical evidence of their participation and completion.
We now live in a digital age, where content, consumerism and the search for experiences often start and end online. The COVID-19 pandemic, while bringing the world to a standstill and effectively bringing the tourism and hospitality industry to a screeching halt, also brought to the forefront an expansion into the necessity for aggressive, curated, and high-yield digital marketing and content. Putting a business online can change everything, it can pull a struggling industry up from its knees to new heights of success.
Ishantha, an entrepreneur in the tourism and hospitality industry shares the success story of his venture Gileemale Walawwa and Estate, and how utilising digital optimisation to further reach in turn gained him customers. With no previous industry experience, Gileemale started as just a dream and Ishantha credits GIZ and the GLX program for helping him spearhead his business in using tech to excel within the sustainable tourism sector.
Atingi brings to Sri Lanka a unique and cost-effective way to upskill, learn, and diversify knowledge, allowing for more skill and innovation to flourish within the tourism and hospitality industries. Hopefully bringing change and reshaping the industry. The eAcademy is geared towards supporting the stakeholders within the Sri Lankan tourism sector to “enhance their competitiveness through strategic capacity development and improve conditions for alternative and sustainable tourism.”