Concerns over Human Resources Crisis in Rising Sri Lanka Holidays Industry
As the President of Sri Lanka sets a target of 2.5 million tourists by 2016, concerns are growing over the lack of human resources required to support the new figures along with the level of service expected from travellers enjoying Sri Lanka holidays.
Sri Lanka tourism is booming for the first time in nearly three decades and President Mahinda Rajapaksa has set the country a target of 2.5 million tourists taking Sri Lanka holidays by the year 2016.
Despite the rise in post-war tourism, concerns are growing over the lack of human resources which are currently in place to meet the demand of the influx of travellers over the next few years.
Plans for several new Sri Lanka hotels and resorts are underway in Colombo and on the south and east coasts of the island which will provide an additional 3,500 rooms for tourists taking holidays to Sri Lanka.
At present, only 55,000 people are directly employed in the tourism industry in Sri Lanka but if the country reaches its 2.5 million target, the tourism industry will need to employ at least one million people by 2016 to cope with the influx of visitors.
If Sri Lanka wants to retain its competitive edge within the tourism sector, service providers such as tourist guides, chauffeurs, travel agents, transport providers and ticketing agents will have to be trained to ensure they provide a top level of service.
Sri Lanka is famous for its warmth and genuine hospitality and the tourism sector is keen to maintain this whilst providing professionally trained staff and a high level of service for tourists while they enjoy their holidays in Sri Lanka.
However, with the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) as the only national level tourism educational institute in Sri Lanka, the number of Sri Lankans who are training in the tourism sector is low and industry officials have concerns that there will be enough fully trained professional staff to meet the new influx of tourists, within such a short time span.
The island’s fast turnaround in tourism has however, stirred interest for the industry for many individuals. The tourism sector has transformed from a low-wage-paying industry to a medium-wage-paying one and local residents are keen to train in a career in tourism with 600 applications vying for approximately 80 places for some courses at the SLITHM.
Aside from employing additional staff from India, Indonesia and the Philippines, one other option is to offer more tourism courses within private tourism education institutions for Sri Lankan residents which are regulated through the SLITHM.
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