Head table - From left: Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators President Devindre Senaratne, CDC Events and Travels (Pvt.) Ltd Chairman Chandra Wickramsinghe, Bocuse d’Or Sri Lanka President Rohan Fernandopulle, Sri Lanka Toursim Promotion Bureau Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara, SLTDA Chairman Paddy Withana, Ceylon Hotel School Graduate Association President Sanjeeva Perera, SLITHM Chairman Sunil Dissanayake, Suyamas International Chairman Lalith Wethasinghe, Institute of Hospitality Sri Lanka Chairman Thusith Samaraweera, Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka Chairman Chef Gerard Mendis, Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka Vice President M. Shanthikumar
By Zahara Zuhair
Steps are to be taken to let go the existing regulations that do not favour the country’s thriving tourism industry, a top Sri Lanka Tourism official said.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara said that a number of things have to be done to improve infrastructure, products and to enhance availability, accessibility to the sector.
He said that to overcome them, many things have to addressed such as relaxing existing laws on restricted timing on serving hours of certain beverages, relaxing the fee that has been levied by the Excise Department etc.
“We are looking at relaxing and stretching the time. The hotels complain about having a particular time for serving alcohol. Discussions are taking place regarding this, very soon we may see some sort of relaxation,” SLTDA Chairman Paddy Withana said.
Nanayakkara said that it is important to have an open sky policy, so that all the airlines could operate here. He said that the government is striving towards the goal of reaching 4 million tourist target by 2020, but many things have to be in place tourism to advance.
He said that it is not the number of tourists that come to the country that matters, but it is important to look at the amount of money that is spent by the tourists.
Last year, a tourist was estimated to have spent US $ 163 a day. Tourism authorities are targeting US $ 210 a day for next year.
Nanayakkara also stressed the importance of positioning Colombo as a happening city in South Asia.
As Australia’s main tourism product is its cuisines, he said that he is glad to see Sri Lanka taking efforts to improve its cuisine availability.
Meanwhile, SLITHM Chairman Sunil Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka is capable of getting labourers for the hospitality sector within the country itself.
“In my opinion, I think it is more a perception than reality that we have a shortage. There could have been a shortage years ago, but it’s been filled, but we continue to have this perception. We have done data analysis, as of today we will have additional 110,000 more jobs until 2020,” he said.
“We have now 135,000 directly employed, and by 2020 it will go up to 245,000,” he said.
While they are providing about 60-70 percent employees from their side and the rest from other vocational centers and institutes, he said that their objective is to have a national curriculum where everyone teaches the same thing at every level.
However, he said though there is no need for foreign labours for the sector, some foreign investors are comfortable having their own people for certain positions for their hotels.
Withana said that they have identified certain criteria where foreign employees are allowed to be employed for specific jobs.
Hotel Show Colombo 2017
These remarks were made at the launch of Hotel Show Colombo 2017, which would showcase the latest state-of-the-art equipment and innovative technology for hotel supplies and services, which will kick off from 30th June to 2nd July.
Focused on a sustainable greener environment theme, which is ‘move forward - think green - maximise sustainability’, it is organized by the Ceylon Hotel Schools Graduates Association (CHSGA) and is backed by the government and Tourist Authority of Sri Lanka. Professional exhibition organizer for the event is CDC Events and Travels (Pvt.) Ltd.
It will feature for the first time seven vital segments of the hospitality and allied sectors, namely Hotel Show Exhibition, Colombo Food Festival, Bocuse d’Or live cooking competition organized by Bocuse d’ Or Sri Lanka, National Barista Championship, Room stylist challenge, seminars and hospitality industry business gathering.