Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (SLITHM), the premier education provider in the tourism and hospitality sector held its 37th Graduation Ceremony at BMICH recently.
While 89 students graduated this year, Asangi Saunders was presented with ‘The Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association Trophy for The Most Outstanding Student in the three year Management Diploma for the year 2015’ and Yasith Keshan Kokuhennadi received ‘The Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association Trophy for The Most Outstanding Graduate of the year 2015’.
Congratulating the graduates Minister of Tourism Developments, Lands and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga noted: “You are the backbone of our industry and without you we cannot achieve our targets that we are looking forward to. Tourism is a priority and this government wants to develop the sector to the extent of becoming the second highest foreign exchange earner for this country.”
Minister Amaratunga also stated that by 2020 there will be 45,000 rooms in the hotel industry and manpower of 300,000 will be needed to cater to this growing requirement. He reiterated that with the entry of the increasing number of international hotel chains the world is starting to look at Sri Lanka as an ideal destination for tourists.
Chairman SLITHM Sunil Dissanayake in his welcome address noted that the ceremony was a momentous occasion which marked a significant milestone in the institute’s annual calendar. “With the appointment of new Minister of tourism John Amaratunga, Sri Lanka tourism is geared to be more responsive to the increased demands and changing trends within the global tourism market,” he further elaborated.
Announcing the progression of the institute and their readiness to cater to the minister’s vision of reaching four million leisure travellers by 2020 Dissanayake stated that; “This year, SLITHM has succeeded in doubling the planned output to 6,200 compared to last year’s 3,100 student enrolments. This is to cater to the industry Human Resources requirements of 23560 between now and end 2017 and the Human Resources requirement by 2020, is an additional 110,000 persons.”
The institute will expand its operations by establishing new colleges to attract young students into the industry and train unemployed youth in rural and suburban areas. Facilities in Hambantota, Passikudah and Negombo were recently established and a new school in Polonnaruwa will be made available in July and Jaffna later in the year. This is in addition to thier existing facilities at Colombo, Anuradhapura, Kandy, Bandarawela, Ratnapura, Koggala and Kurunegala.
In order to cater to the growing needs of the tourism sector, a Chairman and a New Board of Directors were appointed to the SLITHM with effect from November 2015. A Professor from the University of Kelaniya too will join SLITHM as the Director General with effect from 1st July this year.