USAID and Kandy Hoteliers Association successfully launches the Kandy chapter of the Young Tourism Ambassador Initiative

Opening up exciting opportunities for youth in tourism and hospitality
By Shayanika Fernando

 The Kandy chapter of the Young Tourism Ambassador Initiative was launched with 25 young vocational training students from the tourism and hospitality sector participating in a week-long, intensive training program conducted from 4-8 November at Mahaweli Reach Hotel, Kandy.

The Young Tourism Ambassador initiative is conducted by the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded (USAID) YouLead project in partnership with the Kandy Hoteliers Association (KHA), the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) and the Vocational Training Authority (VTA).  USAID’s YouLead project plans to support other regional hotel associations with similar training programs, thus ensuring a continued pool of passionate and well-trained new entrants to the industry.

The program is fourth in a series of trainings, but the first where private hotels, organized by the Kandy Hoteliers Association (KHA), has formally organized and led the training. Overall the trainings are aimed at improving work-readiness skills for youth, connecting students with prospective employers and encouraging them to talk about the changes happening in the modern tourism industry and the opportunities being created with their peers.

Later in November, Mahaweli Reach Hotel, one of several hotels participating in the initiative, made formal job offers to nine of the 25 youth who participated in the training. Two of the students accepting the offers will start right away, while the other seven will commence work upon completion of their courses at the Vocational Training Authority in December. The other 16 youth who successfully completed the program are expected to receive offers from the 25 member hotels of the KHA.

The program is modelled off a pilot designed to change attitudes towards careers in tourism that YouLead ran in Jaffna, Hambantota and Nuwara Eliya. This program was led by the private sector and marks the first time that SLITHM and VTA have collaborated on a training initiative.