One big tropical zoo.

18 01 2010

One big tropical zoo. This is what Sri Lanka has been called in the recent New York Times article titled “31 places to go in 2010”. Sri Lanka is number one on that list – no mean feat for such a small country I am proud to say. But a zoo it is, not so much for the elephants that roam freely (well, not exactly freely – electric fences have been helpful!) but more for the people who seem to have lost all sense of purpose and direction because of the upcoming elections. Lives are being lost through election related violence and it is virtually accepted and expected…a man is attacked, a 19 year old killed… its all part of living in the zoo.

But going back to the story of Sri Lanka being 2010’s number one travel destination. I’m joyful and I’m excited for all those folks who want to visit this lovely island. But it’s also bad news for us locals. We won’t be able to afford to stay in any halfway decent hotel, one where you don’t have to repeat your order five times before the waiter gets it right! If we’re to benefit from our new status as number one, we first need to change our tune of ‘Na’ and ‘Ba’.

Na’ and ‘Ba’ – (or ‘no’ and ‘can’t’). These two words seem to be the standard refrain for many who work in the Sri Lankan service industry.

“Can I have a mango juice?” I would ask. (And I’m ordering from a menu.) And the answer is: “Not available today, miss.” Or I arrive at a restaurant at 10pm and the waiter says “We’re closed.”

If we want to start serving the multitude of tourists that the New York Times recommendation will surely bring to our shores, we will need to learn a thing or two about proper service. At the moment, the one thing we do well is smile. But what’s the use of a smile when we rarely get the order right or the food served hot and on time?

Today, all our hotels are full and the world seems to have landed on our doorstep. But if we want to sustain this trend and keep them coming, we need to examine our service standards and then we need to change.

Are we ready for that?



2 responses

19 01 2010

are we first in random order or in descending order? i got the impression that it was random.

when i pointed out that we were called a zoo to some people i was told i was being negative and cynical. thing it, if you really think about it, we _are_ a zoo. we certainly have the monkeys and buffaloes roaming freely 😀

19 01 2010

I felt so thrilled to see that article too.. We surely need stuff like that these days..

(Btw, did u girls saw the boycott Sri lanka thing ? )

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