Investing in the training, development and IT of local middle managers is vital in growing tourism destinations such as Sri Lanka, says Peter Ducker FIH, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality
Rather than having to pay higher costs to employ expatriates, it makes far greater sense to develop local management talent. Many UK and European universities are working in Africa and Asia to develop hotel schools. The UK’s Plymouth University and the University of Wales are collaborating with local colleges in Sri Lanka, for example.
After its long Civil War, Sri Lanka has now opened up to global influences and set itself ambitious tourism growth targets. Last year, Sri Lanka welcomed 1.27m visitors, a 27% increase from the previous year. It was also ranked by Lonely Planet as the number one destination to visit in 2013.
But this success presents significant HR challenges. One of the key problems is that for nearly 50 years Sri Lanka tourism has been over-dependant on the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) to educate and train hotel staff. The SLITHM and its satellite schools currently have an output of only around 2,500 every year, which indicates that, over-depending on SLITHM to train a majority of new tourism workers is unwise.
One solution could be online learning, also called e-learning or virtual learning. Cost, time and location are the main barriers for hospitality professionals to attending external courses, as their work patterns are irregular. Online learning provides opportunities to achieve recognised qualifications and means that skills can be developed and honed around real work experiences in the workplace.In order to overcome these HR issues, Sri Lankan tourism and hospitality management professionals must think outside the box, be innovative and learn from various best practices as well as similar challenges faced by other destinations.
Drawing on the growing culture of social media, new-style social e-learning is the preferred method of developing management and leadership skills. The objective is to provide part-time ‘stay-in-work’ opportunities for industry workers so they only study the materials provided, but also form a community of learning with peers and instructors.
13.30-14.30 Tuesday 4 November 2014
South Gallery Rooms 21-22