The local hotel industry needs to have a ratio of four employees to one guest according to a study, a hotelier told reporters on Thursday.
Ms. Arnila Thambiayah, Joint Managing Director Renuka Hotels PLC said that the Government has instructed the industry to gear itself to receive 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
When this reporter pointed out that based on the 2.5 million target being achieved, that that would translate to an average of 200,000 visitors a month, with the requirement then being for 800,000 hotel employees on the basis of what she has said, Thambiayah avoided giving a reply, other than saying that those were the study findings.
According to the Central Bank, as of last year, the industry provided employment to 124,456; of whom 51,857 were direct employees and the balance 72,599; indirect employees. Renuka Hotels has some 127 rooms of which only 40 are operational at present (but all taken up), with the rest expected to be on stream by the year end, complemented by a staff cadre of 127.
Yatila Wijemanne who opened up a hotel school in Colombo last year, seeing the opportunities to the industry with the war end, said that while measures are being taken to develop the country’s hotel infrastructure to accommodate an upsurge in tourism arrivals, little is however being done to build and develop the human capital which is also required by the industry.
Wijemanne operates his school in two locations in Colombo, comprising a total of 60 students under the name Cross-Border Academy. Each course is of a four month duration, with tuition fees being Rs. 160,000 per student.
He told this reporter that most of his students are from the outstation, inclusive of a few women.
“Colombo’s youth fight shy of entering the hotel industry, they prefer to go to other professions such as accountancy,” Wijemanne, a lawyer by profession said.
He has a tie-up with a Singaporean institution on quality aspects in the trade and his curriculum is based on their guidelines. They include subjects such as front office operations, housekeeping and accounts, conducted in English, with English also being taught as a subject, as most of the students are not conversant with that language.
Already a 100 of his students have passed out with 30 of them being snapped up by Renuka itself (where the service charge for July alone was Rs. 22,000; coupled with a starting salary of between Rs. 12-15,000 per month), while some others have left the trade and have even have gone abroad.
Twenty of his former students have flown to Singapore for further studies, being apprenticed by some of the hotels there, and being paid a salary of $ 700 a month, said Wijemanne.
He said that his school would be fused into one shortly, with operations at Union Place, Colombo, and the capacity to take in 70 students divided into two classrooms. The school has also introduced a “food and beverages” course, where the tuition fees are Rs. 80,000 for the course.
T20 World Cup