Hon. Sarath Amunugama Minister of Special Assignments our Chief Guest this evening, Hon. Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs our Guest of honour this evening, Your Excellencies, Hon. Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Secretaries to Ministries, Colleagues from the Industry, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of The Hotel Association of Sri Lanka, it is my privilege to welcome you all and express to you my deep appreciation of your presence here with us this evening.
This is not an event for professional hoteliers alone.It would indeed not be complete without the attendance of many members of an appreciative public who are an integral part of this event.
There was a time when we visited hotels only for special occassions, to celebrate weddings, birthdays, anniversaries , to spend long weekends or a holiday with family. This is no longer the case. Habits and lifestyles have changed drastically. Today, for a growing segment of society, visits to a hotel are a daily occurrence, to have a meal or a drink, to relax at the end of a tiresome day or to unwind in the company of friends or associates.
If this is to be an enjoyable experience, the atmosphere of our hotels must be friendly and inviting. This is why we consider it a matter of great importance to train our staff at every level, to make certain that our guests – whether local or foreign – feel entirely at home in our hotels. In fact, we regard our efforts as a success only if they look upon the hotels as a home away from home. It is a place marked by warm and caring relationships. If you are a regular, the hotel staff would be perfectly conversant with your preferences in food, what you require to relax and be comfortable. It is this commitment that creates an intimate bond, absolutely essential in our industry, between hoteliers and their guests.
The crucial position of the hotel industry in the overall context of our national economy needs no emphasis. Our industry consists of well over 220 establishments, and occupies a commanding position in terms of the provision of employment opportunity as well as our contribution to GDP. We employ about 6% of the workforce in our country and are responsible for approximately 10% of our GDP. Since the end of the conflict, the hotel industry has been a key pillar of Sri Lanka’s tourism growth. Historically, the hotel industry has been the source of more than 70% of total tourism earnings.
Tonight is a special milestone for me, because, as our Association hosts this first ever industry awards event, we honour 27 of our promising and talented young ladies and gentlemen who, by their grit, hard work and perseverance in a challenging environment have raised the standards achieved by our industry to a glittering pinnacle. They are in a very real sense, acknowledged ambassadors in their profession. They are distinguished representatives of 350,000 of their colleagues who have risen magnificently to the challenge of keeping their country’s flag flying high in the service of an industry which caters to more than 2.2 million visitors to this Island, who come to our shores in search of our world renowned hospitality.
But, above all, I want to stress this point. What we principally celebrate tonight is not the achievement of the industry in firmly securing its place as one of the main sources of Foreign Direct Investment in Sri Lanka, and as the second largest net Foreign Exchange earner to our country. What we recognize and salute today is another aspect of our achievement. It is the pride and profound satisfaction we feel, in the quality of our people – our human resources and their capacity for hard work, innovation and adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances. This, and no other, is our most valuable asset which we cherish and honour tonight.
ගරු ඇමතිතුමනි , සම්භාවනීය අමුත්තනි, හෝටල් කර්මාන්තයේ අද අපගේ ප්රධාන අරමුණ වී තිබෙන්නේ අප රටේ තරුණ පරපුරට හොඳ රැකි රක්ෂා අවස්ථා ලබා දීමයී
මෙම අරමුණ ඉටු කරගැනීම සඳහා අපි ව්ව්ධ පියවර ගෙන ඇත. මේවායෙන් සමහරක් මෙම සුවිශේෂී අවස්ථාවේ සඳහන් කිරීම සුදුසු යැයි මම සිතමි
අපට වැදගත් වන්නේ හෝටල් ක්ෂේත්රය රක්ෂාවලින් ලබාගත හැකි ප්රයෝජන සහ ජීවිතයේ ඉදිරියට යාමට ලැබෙන අවස්ථා පිලිබඳ අවබෝදයක් අපගේ තරුණ පරපුරට ලබදීමයී. එපමණක් නොව, දිවයිනේ සියලුම ප්රදේශ වල වෙසෙන අපගේ තරුණ තරුණියන්ට එ ගැන දැනුවත් කිරීම අප ප්රධාන වගකීමක් වේ.
මේ සදහා, තම ශ්රමය සහ හැකියාව උපරිම මට්ටමින් යොදා ගනිමින් හෝටල් ක්ෂේත්රයට අමිල සේවයක් කල පිරිසකට ගෞරව දැක්වීම අප කල යුතු යුතුකමක් සේ අපි පිලිගන්නවා. මෙම උත්සවයෙන් අපි කරන්නේ මෙම උතුම් කටයුත්තයී. ඔවුන්ට මෙම සම්මාන පිරිනැමීමෙන් එම ආදර්ශය මුළු ක්ෂේත්රයටම විදහා දැක්වීමෙන් සියල්ලන් දිරිමත් කොට, ඔවුන්ගේ සේවය වඩ වඩාත් දියුණු කිරීමට හැකි වනු ඇතැයි අපගේ විශ්වසයයී
මේ තුලින්, අප සේවක පවුලේ උනන්දුව සහ උද්යෝගය වර්දනය කිරීම තුලින් හෝටල් වියාපාරය වඩාත් ශක්තිමත් කොට, අප රටේ ආර්ථිකය නංවාලීමට නිසැකයෙන් පුළුවන් වනු ඇත. මේ සඳහා ප්රබල පණිවිඩයක් මෙම උත්සවයෙන් නිකුත් වෙනවා ඇතැයි අපගේ විශ්වසයයී
Honourable Minister, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, I would like to conclude by drawing your attention to a very relevant thought enshrined in the Buddhist scriptures, the සිඟාලෝවාද සුත්රය, a sacred text in which the Buddha expounds reciprocal obligations in society, highlights the importance of උට්ටන සම්ප්රදී striving to progress in life by one’s own dedication and hard work. But no man is an island, and we always need a helping hand. This is the crucial role of කල්යාන මිත්තා - our resolve to reach out to others and move forward collectively.
Hotels are living spaces built by people for people and run by people. No one can build a hotel on his own. No one can run a hotel on his own. This industry is so great because we work together as a team. As long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful and our industry will always be strong. This is what “Rising Star” awards is all about.