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SLITHM graduation ceremony

Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) held its 31st graduation ceremony for the academic year 2008, on June 26 at the BMICH.

The Chairman, Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, Cornal Perera said, "With the ushering in of peace and prospects of tourism improving immensely in Sri Lanka, SLITHM will be relied on to provide many more successful, quality graduates to enter the work force in the future".

Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management

"To this end we are endeavouring to affiliate with an internationally recognized institute with the objective of elevating our diploma to the same internationally acceptable standards.

SLITHM is grateful to the people and the Government of Japan for facilitating the internationally acceptable standards via the JBIC funded Tourism Resources Improvement Project (TRIP)", he said.

SLITHM give equal opportunity to all genders and encourage female students to join the trade which eradicates a social stigma ensuring a high level of discipline and security needed for them. The institute has four provincial colleges in Kandy, Bandarawela, Koggala and Anuradhapura. The provincial colleges have been strengthened in the recent past to provide greater training opportunities to rural youth. Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, George Michael said, "We hope tourism will be the first industry to bounce back with dividends to our people with the resurgence of arrivals and business growth. Human Resource Development (HRD) will have a major role to play.

HRD has the combination of both soft and hardware which is only possible through training and development. Our graduates will have to be catalysts in service excellence in the field of tourism where services and products quality are equally essential".

"Hoteliering and catering today has a huge informal sector which whether we like or not can have a tremendous impact on the tourism product we are supposing to manage. We need to swiftly look for ways of assisting and grooming them when and where possible if our intention is to have a demanding tourism product which can resist competition arising from the region", he said.

The Ministry of Tourism, after evaluating the modern trends in world tourism decided to place more emphasis on the SME sector in tourism. To cater to the needs of the growing SME sector, SLITHM has started a new department for training human resources required for this sector giving priority to domestic tourism as well.

Director General, Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, Roy Jayasinghe said, "Through years of hard work and sacrifice of the staff of SLITHM, parents and students together with us reached this great day in the academic calendar to gift another batch of high quality graduates of over 100 to the travel, tourism and hospitality industry".

SLITHM is the premiere Government vocational training institute for travel, tourism and hospitality industry. The institute conducts six core courses namely Professional Cookery, Food and Beverage Operations, Front Office Management, Housekeeping Management, Travel and Tourism and Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs.

At present tourism is embraced as a subject for serious academic study for many reasons such as its emergence as a source of national economic growth, employment generation, recreation, leisure, and more on lifelong wellness practices.

Tourist arrivals increase despite many challenges

Amidst many challenges, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority has taken several measures to promote tourism. Increases in arrivals were recorded from the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The marketing strategy and activity plan for 2008-2010 was presented focusing on four key markets; India, the UK, Russia, and Middle East, that has shown a growth potential.

The Govt also offered a motivation package to help revive the tourism industry

Several steps have been taken to regenerate the tourism industry in the Eastern province.

The Govt also offered a motivation package in January 2009 to help revive the tourism industry, which included rescheduling loans, waiving off the fuel surcharge and the Economic Service Charge (ESC).

The rapid slowdown of the international tourism growth since mid 2008, may perhaps continue to 2009 reflecting the impact of the decline of the global economic situation. In terms of purpose of visit, of the 438,475 tourist arrivals in 2008, the majority visited the country for holiday purposes, while 8.5 percent came for business purposes. Although 8.3 percent indicated they were visiting friends and relatives, 2.6 percent visited for religious and cultural purposes and 1.3 percent had come for conventions and meetings, the Central Bank annual report 2008 said.

According to the report, the tourism industry showed a slowdown during 2008 and incoming tourist arrivals declined by 11.2 percent to 438,475 in 2008 compared to 494,008 arrivals in 2007.

At the beginning of the year 2008, arrivals were mainly affected by the travel advisories issued by some major tourist generating countries and as the year progressed, these factors were combined with the global recession that resulted from the financial market turmoil.

Decreases in arrivals were recorded in respect of key markets of South Asia, and Western Europe as well as other markets such as; East Asia, North America and Australia during 2008. Earnings from tourism declined to US$ 342 million in 2008 from US$ 385 in 2007.

However, with the dawn of peace, the tourism industry is expected to emerge as one of the thrust sectors of the country's economy in the medium-term.

Moves to promote tourism in Arugam Bay area

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority launched a transit bus service between Moneragala and Arugam Bay to promote tourism in the area. The Coordinator for Tourism Development in the Eastern Region, A. M. Jaufer said that the main objective of this service was to provide transportation facilities to promote tourism and increase the visits of tourists foreign and local. Another transit bus service will be launched between Colombo and Arugam Bay in August.

He said that there will be many tourists during the weekdays with the facilities provided. Thus, many natural and religious places of attraction will be developed and visited by tourists.

There will be four trips every day. A bus trip from Moneragala to Arugam Bay will promote low-cost tourism.

There are many promotional activities organized to attract tourists to the country. The International Surfing Competition is organized on July 4 and the International Beach Run will be held on July 6 from Pothuvil to Arugam Bay, he said.

Sumanagiri Lanka to establish boutique hotel at Induruwa under BOI

The Board of Investment of Sri Lanka granted investment approval to Sumanagiri Lanka (Private) Limited and two more ventures. Minister of Investment Promotion Navin Dissanayake presented the BOI Certificate Registration to Chairman of Sumanagiri Lanka (Private) Limited, Thomas Stillmann, Chairman / Director General Dhammika Perera, signed the agreements on behalf of the BOI.

The agreement signed with Sumanagiri Lanka (Private) Limited is to establish a boutique hotel at Induruwa.

The hotel targeting the high end exclusive tourist will provide the opportunity to discover the pleasure of serenity in exquisite surroundings between tropical forest and peaceful rice fields. The renovated 100 year old colonial Manor House and the boutique villas will be resting on the hill overlooking life in the village.

The hotel will consist of the Manor House and three luxurious, generously designed garden villas in eight acres of land.

Services offered by the hotel includes services such as full hotel services in the Small Luxury category, shuttle service from Colombo Airport, personal tour guides, private safaris, broadband internet and WiFi availability, private pools, garden restaurant, large swimming pool at the Manor House, ayurveda treatments and beauty massages at the house spa and a fitness centre.

The boutique hotel is constructed with an initial investment of US $ 500,000 which will be US $ 2 million on completion. The investment for the boutique hotel is sponsored by Costa Levante Investment, Germany and will commence commercial operations within three months.

Galadari Hotel to promote 'Accessible Tourism'

Sri Lanka's newest profit source:

The Galadari Hotel in the heart of Colombo overlooking the Indian ocean with a trove of upscale facilities, is the holidaymaker's sophisticated getaway, the event organizer's ideal venue, and the businessman's home in Sri Lanka.

"We have reinforced our commitment towards establishing facilities and services that equally enable everyone" said the hotel's General Manager Sampath Siriwardena.

Dr. Ajith C. S. Perera with Assistant Security Manager, Wimalasiri, Rooms Division Manager, Rizwan Khaldeen, General Manager, Sampath Siriwardena, Chief Engineer Saliya Hapugalle and Public Relations Manager Nirukshi Rupasinghe of Galadari Hotel.

The preliminary work at several locations of the hotel, he said, has been completed in close collaboration with Idiriya, a registered not-for-profit organisation of a group of professionals who are exceptionally responsive towards 'Designing for inclusion of all people.'

"This mission of national importance was initiated, promoted and guided at Galadari Hotel by the Secretary-General of Idiriya Dr. Ajith C.S. Perera who has a good understanding about disability related access issues and of its intricacies, as an experience accessibility advisor with proven competence, total commitment and first hand practical knowledge as a wheelchair-user," said the Chief Engineer Saliya Hapugalle.

He was speaking at a ceremony held recently to mark the opening of the hotel's two accessible entrances and introducing systems towards their optimum use.

"In this hospitality industry, every customer, able or disable, visibly or invisibly to any degree, needs to be respected and protected, made comfortable and safe, equally and without any discrimination. We are very happy to have received Dr. Perera's expertise and initiated the right action to provide 'accessible and user-friendly facilities equally to all' at the Galadari Hotel. This we consider as our moral duty," said Public Relations Manager Nirukshi Rupasinghe.

Under Dr. Perera's close guidance, the team led by Siriwardena including Hapugalle and Maintenance Engineer Damith Gunatunga assisted by Nirukshi Rupasinghe, are working towards this goal.

He said, "Physical obstacles to access facilities 'man make to man' at public buildings send an unintended message of unwelcome. It is not good business to alienate clientele in that way."

"The growing market of 'Less mobile and able' people have real spending power, the desire and the time to travel. Their greatest disappointment in travelling to Sri Lanka, is the extreme difficulty in identifying the right facilities and services that cater for them, for toileting and especially showering," Perera said.

"Accessibility is not only about visibly disabled people. It extends to a wide range of people due to numerous reasons including non-visible debilitating conditions. Even at our reputed five star hotels and tourist resorts' access to toilets and wash facilities and their use is a nightmare for the increasing number of people visiting them, said Dr. Perera.

"Accessible tourism' is Sri Lanka's newest profit source. At a time when we are to resurrect our international and also domestic tourism industry and contribute significantly to Sri Lanka's economic growth after ending three decades of war against terrorism, we cannot afford to be inept and leave out this lucrative income generating big sector of people. We must act fast to embrace the 'diversity of mobility' of potential tourists," Dr. Perera said.


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