Australia funded AUS $ 15 m initiative to boost SL tourism

High Commissioner  Bryce Hutchesson.  Picture by Sarath Peries
High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson. Picture by Sarath Peries

The ‘Skills for Growth’ programme undertaken by Australia and the Skills Development and Vocational Training Ministry will identify skills gaps and provide training that contribute to Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, said Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson.

He was addressing the launch of the Australia Sri Lanka Alumni (ASLA) network in Colombo, hosted by the Australian High Commission on Wednesday.

“The initiative is intended to delve into the tourism industry perspectives and identify as to where the skills gaps lie, and embark on a series of training activities to ensure that those gaps are filled. It aims to provide livelihood opportunities for people to contribute in the tourism sector,” High Commissioner Hutchesson said.The programmes is a development partnership running for four years under Australian funds of AUS $ 15 million. It will have a geographic focus, mainly in the three districts of the Eastern Province and the North Central Province, the High Commissioner added.

He said the tourism value chain in Sri Lanka is underdeveloped. “There is a lot of untapped potential particularly from the private sector. Small scale entrepreneurs have a significant role to play in this growth industry,” he added.

‘Tourism Australia’ is a major part of Australia’s brand and appeal. Australia is working with Sri Lanka’s private sector and the government to provide consultancy on Sri Lanka’s tourism strategy and vision by drawing on Australia’s example.

Guest speaker Tourism Australia Deputy Chair Andrew Fairley said his first suggestion for a vibrate tourism sector is to ensure that there isn’t fragmentation in the sector for the best possible outcome. He said coordination and communication is key among the various linked institutions and departments. Fairley added that the research component cannot be underestimated, and that safety and security is the number one priority of travelers.

Secretary to the Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training and marine biologist, whale expert and NatGeo Young Explorer Dr Asha de Vos also spoke.

The newly launched Australia Sri Lanka Alumni (ASLA) network will expand the scope of Australia-Sri Lanka bilateral education relationship.

The network will bring together Sri Lankans who have studied in Australia, to stay connected with Australia and to network with the thousands of other alumni who are achieving much in Sri Lanka after returning.

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