Professionalising Northern Tour Guides towards Future Tourism

North Sri Lanka, as the initial point for all directions inaugurated a destination marketing initiative in 2019 September in order to re-ignite Sri Lanka Tourism in the new normal. This initiative was taken as a result of the value chain-based community tourism pilot project strategically developed by EFECS Project in 2019/20. Accordingly, the project was abled to develop five community-based tourism strategies for five districts and also five strategically created destination brand for each district to promote tourism.

Treating Covid19 as a blessing to grow the rural community, project introduced a business diversification model to connect the existing tourism SMEs with multi-income generation sources. With the leadership of the department of cooperatives in northern province, the rural community is now getting ready to serve the tourists with their glamourous skilled products such as handlooms, Palmyra handicrafts, cultural dancing, cashew, organic agriculture and many more.

Parallelly, the travel agents are getting ready to boost a social media campaign to promote northern tourism under the flagship of the Northern Province Tourism Bureau. Filling the gap of professionalised tour guides in the community platform of each district, EFECS project in consultation with Northern Tourism Bureau and Northern Province Department of Cooperatives identified 25 tour guides from all five districts of Northern Province to professionalise for future tourism.

The selection of guides was conducted jointly by the EFECS Project and Northern Province Tourism Bureau in four districts in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Mullaitivu on 11, 12, 13 January 2021. The candidates referred by the Cooperative Societies in each district was prioritised in addition to the basic academic and professional qualifications gazetted by SLTDA to become a professional tour guide.

Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) conducting the interviews in Jaffna and Kilinochchi.

Accordingly, 20 days residential training programme was organised with the facilitation of International Knowledge Pool which is a certified hospitality training institution in North Eastern Province. The training programme includes classroom lectures as well as the field tour in the community routes developed by the project.

The training is conducted by a pool of qualified professionals in Tourism Sri Lanka. The inaugural ceremony was held on 18th January 2021 in green grass hotel, Jaffna with the participation of leading tourism academics and professionals including the senior officials from Northern Province Tourism Bureau and EFECS Project.

Participating tour guides registering for the programme…..

Each participant was given a set of Village Based Tourism Strategic Plans of five districts. The curriculum will be mainly focussing on the routes and strategies developed by the pilot programme focussed on the value chain model introduced by EFECS. In order to ensure the quality of training all materials was translated into Tamil language and the sessions were conducted in mixed language of Tamil and English considering the audience.

Tour Guides receiving the strategic plan booklets to continue their educational programme from Mr. T. Nadesh, Northern Tourism Bureau, K. Hershanth and Mr. V. Sinthujan, Market Developemnt Officers of the EFECS Project.….

“This is a moment; Northern Tourism is receiving a new power of professionalised 25 tour guides under the Community Tourism Approach introduced by EFECS Project. Firstly, I appreciate the dedicated engagement of the project towards streamlining the Tourism Value Chain in Northern Province by implementing the value chain-based thinking for Northern Tourism, with the technical support of Canadian Cooperative Bank and Global Affairs of Canada under the leadership of SANASA International Private Limited” said Mr. Stanley Mascarenes addressing the tour guides gathered for the inaugural ceremony.

“Finally, with the engagement of the community members as well as the existing tourism professionals established under the tourism value chain, Village based Strategies for 05 Districts were developed with the participation of 281 MSMEs as well as the 159 Cooperative Community Members in North” expressed Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) for Northern Province addressing the Keynote Speech at the forum. She explained the importance of professionalising the tour guides for Northern Province.

A group of people sitting at a table in front of a projector screen

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceMs. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) Addressing the tour guides…

Renowned Resource Person for Community Tourism, Senior Lecturer in Sabaragamuwa University Professor M. S. M. Aslam, Experienced professional in Tourism Administration, Former Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Mr. Malraj Kiriella, Chairman of Northern Province Tourism Bureau, Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas, Mr. Sarawanabhawan, Director of Northern Province Tourism Bureau and Director of International Knowledge Pool attended at the inaugural programme.  

National Tour Guide Lecturer, Mr. Akalanka Gunasekara is coordinating the session with the participants….

Participants were provided with an active learning experience on tour guiding principles by the resource persons.

EFECS Project funded by Global Affairs of Canada under the technical support of Desjardins International Development lead by SANASA International facilitated the complete programme of 20 days with all required food and accommodation. The guides will be provided with a field tour in all five districts within the upcoming 20days of the programme.

The initiative was completely designed and developed by the EFECS Project with a pool of professionals in 2019 and as the last step of the pilot, now the complete resources that the project has developed will be transferred for the tour guides based in the northern province to utilise for future tourism opportunities.

The five district-based destination brands for north developed by EFECS Project were revealed to the stakeholders on September 23rd by the of Hon. Governor of the Northern Province will be started promoting among the local travellers from March 2021. There are 25 Travel Agents getting ready for the promotion in Colombo whereas the trained 25 tour guides will have a great opportunity of connecting with the market. This programme will be one of the live examples to demonstrate the importance of market linkages within the tourism value chain for a sustainable development of the industry.