World Tourism Day 2019 - celebrating local tourism operators in Sri Lanka's east

07 September 2019

27 September marks the United Nations’ World Tourism Day. Around the world, tourism generates 10% of jobs and has the potential to create decent work in line with Sustainable Development Goal 8. This year, World Tourism Day celebrates the role of tourism in job creation through the theme ‘Tourism and Jobs: a better future for all.’

In Sri Lanka, the Australian Government’s Skills for Inclusive Growth program is contributing to stronger and more inclusive tourism businesses in the country’s east and north central districts through a unique business training and coaching model. This is helping to support and accelerate the growth of locally owned small businesses like Yuhibuhi Forest Resort.

An employee from Yuhibuhi Forest Resort walking with a tray

Located in the town of Pullamalai in the country’s east, Yuhibuhi has seen considerable growth in its operations since taking part in business coaching.

“We were very excited to be given the opportunity to improve our resort to make it more attractive to guests and of a higher quality,” say Mr and Mrs Niroshan, the owners of Yuhibuhi.

Mr and Mrs Niroshan have improved Yuhibuhi’s facilities to attract higher-end guests and now offer a range of local tourism activities. And the resort is receiving five-star visitor reviews along the way.

“We worked with the trainers to make a development plan for the resort, gain new industry knowledge, improve our skills, and the skills of our six staff members.”

Through this coaching, Mr and Mrs Niroshan saw an opportunity to tap into a new segment of the market: accessible tourism.

“We built ramps that provide wheelchair access to two of our rooms and are learning how we can engage with this new sector of the industry,” says Mr Niroshan.

Yuhibuhi Forest Resort owners Mr and Mrs Niroshan at their resort

The resort has also improved its own inclusive practices and now employs additional staff, including women and four people with disability – members of the community who are traditionally not involved in the tourism industry. Mr and Mrs Niroshan are committed to supporting each employee to improve their skills in providing high-quality tourism and hospitality services.

Since being involved in business coaching, Mr and Mrs Niroshan have created an organic waste management system that allows the resort to cultivate its own vegetables. More exciting developments are underway, such as applications to improve electricity access on site, bee keeping, developing a water treatment plant, fish therapy and Ayurveda therapy.

After the unfortunate Easter tragedy in April, just like as everyone in Sri Lanka’s hospitality sector, Yuhibuhi faced tremendous losses through a drop in visitor numbers. Through Skills for Inclusive Growth’s ‘Tourism recovery consultation’ sessions, Mr Niroshan learned about risk mitigation and recovery practices.

In a bid to attract tourists, he used Instagram and Facebook updates, discounts, and free city tours. He also converted his house to a homestay and created an even safe space for his guests to spend time before easing them back to Yuhibuhi Forest Resort. This transition from homestay experience to a safe resort gained trust from the guests, and business is recovering.

This World Tourism Day, we’re celebrating local tourism businesses like Yuhibuhi Forest Resort. These small operations are creating employment opportunities, challenging traditional views on the inclusion of women and people with disability, and creating safe and memorable tourism experiences for people from all over the world.

 

Skills for Inclusive Growth’s team works with local businesses to help them to better meet the needs of the growing tourist market. Through accessing this service, businesses are better able to meet the quality and needs of tourists, which can lead to increased business. In turn, this can lead to additional employment and skills development opportunities. This initiative is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training.

For more information about Skills for Inclusive Growth visit www.inclusivegrowth.com.lk.

 

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