USAID and KHA launch Young Tourism Ambassador Initiative Kandy chapter

Friday, 15 November 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A practical session on food and beverage for the Young Tourism Ambassador Initiative participants 

During a practical session on front office operations 

 From left: The Golden Crown Hotel Kandy General Manager Suneth Kudaliyanage, YouLead Partnerships Manager Shayanika Fernando, Kandy Hoteliers Association President Samantha Ratnayake and Topaz Hotel Manager Navin Wicramasinghe at the inaugural day of the Young Tourism Ambassador Initiative


  • Opening up exciting opportunities for youth in tourism and hospitality 


The Kandy chapter of the Young Tourism Ambassador Initiative was launched on 4 November with 25 young vocational training students from the tourism and hospitality sector participating in a week-long, intensive training program conducted at the Mahaweli Reach Hotel, Kandy. 

The Young Tourism Ambassador initiative is conducted by the US Agency International Development-funded (USAID) YouLead project in partnership with the Kandy Hoteliers Association (KHA), the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA). USAID’s YouLead project plans to support other regional hotel associations with similar training programs, thus ensuring a continued pool of passionate and well trained new entrants to the industry.

The program is a fourth in a series of trainings, but a first where a regional hotel association, Kandy Hoteliers Association (KHA), has played a prominent role in organising and leading the training. Overall, the trainings are aimed at improving work-readiness skills for youth, connecting students with prospective employers and encouraging them to talk about the changes happening in the modern tourism industry and the opportunities being created with their peers. Upon successful completion of the vocational training programmes by the young trainees, KHA has made a commitment to absorb them to KHA member hotels, which is a significant outcome of the initiative. 

“KHA congratulates this timely initiative and proposes to continue similar programs in the future. We are happy that the initiative provides a common platform to showcase a rapidly growing industry and be able to absorb youth perspective and innovative skills to match the industry needs. The initiative was also able to foster positive attitudes towards the tourism and hospitality industry among youth, parents and the community towards creating a passion for young entrants,” KHA President Samantha Ratnayake added. 

During the program, the young trainees of vocational training institutes received hands-on experience in traditional careers like cookery, housekeeping, front office, and food and beverage service. They were also, exposed to the kinds of exciting new and emerging careers being created by the modern tourism industry including fitness instructor, naturalist, tour guide and others. The youth received practical experience in the real working environment in each of the key departments, exposing them to the multiple pathways and careers available in the sector. The sessions were led by YouLead tourism consultant Srilal Miththapala, supported by HR/Training Managers and key resource personnel from KHA member hotels and experts from SLITHM and VTA. 

“I have learnt so much during this very short time. It’s always been a challenge for young learners like us to make the real connectivity between the classroom lessons and work life. We have wanted to get a true flavour of the type of jobs and prospects in the industry. I believe this training exposed us to the new demands of the tourism and hospitality industry and the right skills that we should possess as entrants,” Mohamed Zumri, a 20-year-old trainee, said. 

The program is important not just for would-be tourism professionals. Studies have shown that exposing young women and men to appropriate service industry soft skills, attitudes, and behaviour early in their careers builds foundational skills with a high level of transferability to real work and life situations. To aid this, the program also included modules in communications, teamwork, soft skills and interview techniques which will increase their employability, skills and help them progress on the career path. 

“It’s great to see so many capable youth excited to enter the industry since it really does have a wide range of opportunities and fantastic career growth prospects,” said Kumuduni Wickramasinghe, Principal of the SLITHM, Kandy Branch. “I appreciate the commitment of the USAID-funded YouLead project, VTA, Srilal Miththapala, the HR/Training Managers of KHA member hotels, and the young people who were part of this wonderful training program.”