Sri Lanka must develop a sufficient supply of a "professionally efficient" workforce to meet the expectations of international tourists, according to newly-appointed Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Anura Lokuhetty. This could be accomplished by strengthening the Ceylon Hotel School and other regional hotel schools, upgrading the Sri Lanka Institute of Hotel Management to a national university or even include tourism as a vocational subject in the country's school curriculum.
He also suggested that Sri Lankan professionals who had taken jobs abroad in the past be lured back. As to the harassment of tourists by locals, Mr. Lokuhetty said: “ As a strong believer of the expansion of tourism through positive community participation, I suggest that to help overcome this problem, we assist and aid community centres, therefore encouraging traditional markets in every resort enabling local people in their own area to sell their wares to the tourists.”
He said this will also give tourists the opportunity to mingle freely with locals without pressure. “This will not only curtail irregular sales activities and harassment on our beaches, but will positively promote integration between the local communities and tourists, and all parties shall benefit,” he added.
In addition, to counter a current, too high 30% electricity surcharge faced by hotels, he proposed a fairer alternative whereby a flat rate of 10% be charged for all the country's industries. Mr. Lokuhetty made these comments at an evening event which followed the Annual General Meetings of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators and THASL held last week, where he was appointed as THASL President for the 2010/2011 period.