By Hiran H.Senewiratne
Sri Lanka should do everything possible to obtain UK and European Union countries’ confirmation as a Covid 19 free tourist destination. Getting out of their red lists is vital. At present, the country is facing the risk of losing its highly efficient and knowledgeable tourism-linked workforce, a top tourism expert said.
“Currently, the tourism sector workforce comprises more than half a million. This segment of workers accounts for 11 percent of the total workforce in the country. But tourism is considered the worst hit segment in the country owing to this global pandemic. Due to that the government should try to get out of the red lists of the UK and EU regarding its Covid-free status. It must be considered that tourism brings the highest foreign exchange into the country, former vice president, Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association (CHSGA) Chandana Amaradasa told The Island Financial Review yesterday.
Amaradasa said that in 2018 amid all difficulties Sri Lanka received 2.8 million tourists into the country and the foreign revenue that year was US $ 4 billion. It is said that more than 2.5 million persons directly and indirectly depend on the tourism industry, he said.
Amaradasa added: “The government should introduce a wage support scheme/system for tourism employees to protect them and prevent the exodus from the industry of such workers. Some hotels have downsized their staff and some workers are experiencing huge wage cuts. If the government does not come up with a practical solution, the younger generation will never enter to this sector, in the future.
“At present there is a 22500 registered room capacity in Sri Lanka. Of this 90 percent belongs to the SME sector. Out of that 90 percent, 90 percent is run by Sri Lankan entrepreneurs.
“Because of the pandemic situation, investors in the tourism sector are in deep trouble and are struggling to find ways and means for servicing their debt. Due to this, the entire hotel sector, tour operators, travel agents, transport providers, the shop and entertainment sector and airlines have been affected.
“Further, many hotels have to pay heavy bank loans. An interest waive off would give them some breathing space. The Rs. 4 billion tourism cess fund could be utilised to salvage the tourism sector.
“The UK and EU markets bring high spending tourists to Sri Lanka. Therefore, to protect the industry the government should expedite getting out of the relevant red lists and promote Sri Lanka tourism through travel agents and other related institutions.
“In 2019, the contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP of Sri Lanka was 12.6 per cent. This quantum increased from 6 percent in 2000 to 12.6 percent in 2019, growing at an average annual rate of 4.28 per cent.”
SLTMobitel-PEOTV and DP Education launch ‘Videsa DP Education’
SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT, Telecommunications and Mobile Services Provider has teamed up with DP Education, to launch ‘Videsa DP Education’, a dedicated educational channel on CH.215 of SLTMobitel–PEOTV, ensuring school children from Grade Five to Advanced Level have access to a high-quality learning experience with Rewind TV.
The revolutionary services of SLTMobitel-PEOTV includes ‘Videsa’ a series of educational channels hosted on the platform, that comprise of 06 TV channels dedicated to individual grades covering grades 06 to 11, that enhance the knowledge sharing with curriculum-centered lessons from a panel of reputed teachers. DP Education, a unique online learning platform, leverages digital solutions to deliver quality education to empower students. Together, Videsa and DP Education, enrich the educational arena further with the ‘Videsa DP Education’ channel, a dedicated television space for the students at home.
This path-breaking partnership is a commitment by SLTMobitel–PEOTV to support the education of children, whose options are limited due to the challenges convergence posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative will use the home TV screen and mobile devices as a ubiquitous medium to impart knowledge providing access to quality education for students across the country.
Commenting on the initiative, Rohan Fernando, Group Chairman, SLT said, “We understand that parents are now faced with the challenge of keeping their children safe during the pandemic as well as having to deal with the ongoing disturbances to their children’s education. As a solution to ensure that their learning remains uninterrupted, we have already introduced six different channels for Grade 6 to Grade 11 students through our Videsa digital platform. Our latest initiative and partnership with DP Education has now enabled us to launch a dedicated channel with unique learning experiences in key subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English for students from Grade 5 to Advanced Level with the Rewind TV facility. We are appreciative of the exceptional efforts extended by Mr. Dammika Perera and his team at DP Education and are grateful for the opportunity to connect the two learning platforms together in unison to create a revolutionary learning experience for our children”.
Thornton and Dane’s combined projects portfolio tops Rs 5.9 billion
Thornton Engineering, the Nextventures owned civil engineering company, has announced the acquisition of a 100% stake in Dane Engineering (Pvt) Ltd. for Rs 350 million, creating a construction business with a combined portfolio of Rs 5.9 billion.
The new entity, Thornton and Dane Engineering, expects to add new construction projects with a cumulative value of Rs 5 billion within the current financial year, nearly doubling its projects portfolio, the Company said in its announcement.
“We are excited at the post-acquisition prospects for the new company, because we strongly believe that it is a good example for the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” said Thornton and Dane Director Dinesh Schaffter. “The combined strengths of Thornton and Dane create a formidable as well as extremely flexible engineering company that is capable of executing projects of varying scope and scale.”
Capacity-building programs for SMEs
Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI), the apex body for SMEs in Sri Lanka has been at the forefront in supporting the SMEs during the pandemic. The chamber took several measures since the pandemic first hit the country in the first quarter of 2020. The Webinar series “Way Forward for SMEs” was a grand success among other initiatives, which was conducted with the participation of prominent scholars, leading business personalities as well as top rankers of state and private sector organizations.
The president of SLCSMI, Prof. Rohan De Silva said: “We are always there to represent and support the SMEs in the country and that’s our prime duty. During the first wave, we understood the need to share the knowledge and provide psychological support for the business owners to withstand the difficult times and that’s how the webinar series was born. Our initiative was well received by the businesses and our audience was not limited to Sri Lanka alone, as we witnessed participants from around 12 countries.”
Prof. Rohan further said that the chamber has looked at the possibilities of providing sustainable solutions to the SMEs beyond merely conducting knowledge sharing sessions and the Executive Committee has decided to introduce a range of Capacity Building programs to develop the SMEs. These programs include different solutions to address various gaps among the SMEs and the chamber intends to issue a valuable certificate for the participants of these programs.
The chamber has partnered with the Asia Pacific Institute of Money and Entrepreneurship Development (iMED) to design and deliver the programs and the details of the Programs will be unveiled at the launching event scheduled to be held on the 25th of September.
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