The 11th Edition of Hotel Show 2016 was declared open by Minister of Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands, Hon. John Amaratunga at the BMICH on July 22. According to the organisers, the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association (CHSGA), this is the biggest Hotel Show todate with over 300 stall holders occupying five exhibition halls in the BMICH complex.
Published below is the speech delivered by the Hon. Minister at the opening;
I’m extremely pleased to be here this morning as your chief guest.
Hotel Show 2016, I believe, is the 11th edition of this very successful annual exhibition that brings together the entire hospitality community in Sri Lanka. In this relatively short period of time it has progressed to be a ‘must-visit’ exhibition for all hoteliers and vendors of hotel supplies and services. The show has grown in stature over the years to be the pre-eminent hospitality industry event that showcases the latest products and services available in the hospitality sector in Sri Lanka. I must congratulate the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association for this pioneering initiative which is now a permanent fixture in the local hospitality events calendar.
It is noteworthy that this exhibition was begun at a time when tourism was not doing that well in Sri Lanka. It is to the credit of the organisers, the Ceylon Hotel School Graduates Association, that they remained focused on their objectives even when the chips were down and today, 11 years later, we see the fruits of that endeavour.
The CHSGA is no stranger to events of this nature. Besides pioneering this much looked forward to exhibition, it is actively involved in many projects for the greater good of the local hospitality industry. I would not be wrong to describe this association which consists of the alumni of the former Ceylon Hotel School and the present Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, as the most respected in the local hospitality industry.
Every year the Hotel Show has been going from strength to strength with bigger stall holder participation and also the emergence of concurrent events such as the Colombo Food Festival and the National Barista Championship.
I’m happy to note the great strides that this particular show has made in the last few years, keeping pace with the rapid growth of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. I’m confident that this year’s show which is being held during the golden jubilee of Sri Lanka Tourism, will add to this growth momentum.
Through initiatives of this nature I would like to see greater value addition to the traditional tourism products that we have on offer together with the expansion of the ancillary sectors, which is what this exhibition is all about. The backward integration where hotel supplies are manufactured locally, strengthening our local economy must take place at all levels. It is through such holistic growth that we can realize the true economic potential of the hospitality industry. Local suppliers even in the remotest parts of the country now have an opportunity to directly meet top hoteliers and sell their products and services. The CHSGA must be congratulated for creating this platform with the future in mind.
Last week Sri Lanka Tourism hosted a high profile UNWTO conference in the east coast resort of Passikudah. Among the 60 international delegates was the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation. He and all the other delegates were full of praise for Sri Lanka and were stunned by the tourism products that we have on offer. Surprisingly many were unaware of the existence of a place called Passikudah itself! This is the challenge that we face.
Most of you here today are hoteliers and those involved in the tourism industry. We have a collective responsibility to showcase what we have to the international market. Towards this end I’m happy to inform you that Sri Lanka Tourism will shortly be launching an international destination promotion campaign using television and various digital media platforms to take this message to the world. The advent of big international brands such as Anantara, Sheraton, Movenpick, Grand Hyatt, Shangri-La, Marriot, ITC, Silver Needle etc. to Sri Lanka will make this task easier for us.
With the government’s determination to make tourism a cornerstone of its economic growth strategy, I can assure that the future is bright for the tourism industry. However with growth comes responsibility. All stakeholders including the informal sector which I believe is represented here, must ensure that the success of the hospitality industry is enjoyed by all sections of the community, especially the less well to do who are waiting for opportunity to knock on their doors.
I wish Hotel Show 2016, every success!