Sri Lanka gets ADB grant to train homestay owners, revise hotel school syllabus

Tourism is the third highest source of foreign exchange for Sri Lanka, but the industry has faced a downturn following the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

ECONOMYNEXT- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said it is funding a 500,000 US dollar grant to train homestay owners and revise the curriculum at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (SLITHM), which will improve hospitality standards in Sri Lanka.

Homestay owners will receive training in operating and marketing their rooms under the grant, named ‘Supporting Tourism Resilience’, which the ADB board approved in December.

The Manila-based lender said it had received a request from the Sri Lanka government to help in the recovery of the tourism sector following the Easter Sunday bombings and devised the program.

At end-June, there were 497 homestay owners operating 1,502 rooms registered with the state regulatory body, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).

Thousands more are unregistered, and form part of the informal sector that hosts a quarter of tourists arriving in Sri Lanka, on which information is lacking.

The SLTDA, SLITHM and the Tourism Ministry are partnering on the training of homestay owners.

The project will also seek to increase awareness of opportunities in tourism among the youth and women, in order to increase employment in the industry, while reducing poverty and improving gender equality.

Before the Easter Bombings, Sri Lanka was on track to reach a 100,000 employment shortfall just in star-grade hotels, which make up a third of the 39,525-room registered formal sector, by 2021, due to the construction of new hotels, and outward migration due to better pay.

Hoteliers are expecting recruitment to get tougher due to the terror attacks on hotels in April.

ADB consultants will also review and revise the SLITHM curriculum, which includes crafts, certificate and diploma-level courses, as well as tour and chauffer guide training.

Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka is down 19.6 percent to 1.67 million visitors at end-November due to the terror attacks. 

The arrivals had gradually recovered to a 9.5 percent fall in November from a 70.8 percent decline in May.

Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third largest foreign exchange source after worker remittances and apparel exports, and generated 4.4 billion US dollars in 2018. (Colombo/Dec11/2019)