With increasing contributions by the tourism industry to economic development, Sri Lanka Tourist Board in collaboration with the University of Colombo introduced a Masters degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Tourism, Economics and Hotel Management for Sri Lankan students for the first time.
Higher studies in this field will make significant contributions to improve the tourism industry in the country.
Today tourism has become one of the largest foreign exchange earners in Sri Lanka. It is estimated that the direct impact of tourism in Sri Lanka on GDP is more than two percent, but this could be much higher when considering indirect impacts.
Projected foreign tourist arrivals by 2016 will be 2.5 million. Though the industry currently provides around 150,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities, this amount should go up to more than 500,000 by 2016.
Several national universities, University of Rajarata, University of Sabaragamuwa, University of Kelaniya currently conduct a few degree programmes in tourism studies. Some of these national universities have also introduced tourism or tourism related study modules as a part of their postgraduate or Masters level programmes, but have not yet introduced a postgraduate diploma or Masters level programmes specializing in tourism studies.
This will be the first experience for Sri Lankan students to pursue postgraduate studies on tourism in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Tourism chairman Nalaka Godahewa addressing an inaugural ceremony said the objective of the masters degree programme is to provide the knowledge and skills in tourism, economics and hotel management to those whose activities will have a positive impact on development of the tourism industry in a sustainable manner.
The knowledge and skills are provided in a nationally and internationally accepted and competitive manner.
Prof. Sarath Kotagama said Sri Lanka can be marketed all round the world.
Tourism should be developed within Sri Lankan identity.
‘Tourists visit Sri Lanka for a new experience. If we provide them what they already have that will never be a success. So we should produce our own things for marketing, he said.
Presidential Adviser Sunimal Fernando, University Grants Commission chairman Prof Gamini Samaranayake, Colombo University Vice Chancellor Prof. Kshinika Hirimburegama, and two professors from Thailand and Malaysia addressed the gathering.