Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga this week affirmed that steps have already being made to convert Sri Lanka Tourism and Hotel Management Institute (SLITHM) into a university.
He made these remarks at a discussion held at the Tourism Ministry on Wednesday with trade union members of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) at the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), SLITHM, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
Noting that Sri Lanka is well-known as a very hospitable and attractive destination for tourists, the Minister pointed out that conversion of the SLITHM into a university to award degrees, will help in attracting youth to the tourism industry and give them due recognition.
The implementation of this proposal, which has also been put forward in the ‘Vistas of Splendour and Prosperity’, is already being discussed with the Higher Education Ministry, Ranatunga said.
He said that he hopes to hold discussions with international universities that are conducting tourism and hotel management degree programs that are well recognised anywhere in the world.
The Minister also briefed the trade union representatives on the repeal of the Tourism Act No. 38 of 2005 and the drafting of a new Tourism Act. He pointed out that the focus is to merge the SLTDA, SLTPB, SLCB, whilst keeping the SLITHM as a separate entity as it is related to education.
Ranatunga expressed hope that the tourism industry would recover gradually in the next six months with the introduction of the COVID-shield vaccine globally.
The Minister noted that various strategies are being implemented to make the country more attractive to tourists, adding that he expects the support of all parties involved in the tourism sector in this regard.
He also expects the support of the trade unions for the future course of action of the Government and to take the tourism institutions forward through mutual understanding. The Minister called on the trade union representatives to submit any ideas and suggestions to improve the institutions, whilst developing the entire industry.
Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi and SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijayasinghe were also present at the discussion. (ft.lk)