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eTN Sri Lanka contributor appointed to international board of Asian Eco-Tourism Network 

Written by editor

Srilal Miththapala, senior tourism industry personality and regular contributor to eTurboNews from Sri Lanka, has been appointed to the Board of the Asian Eco-Tourism Network.

Srilal Miththapala, senior tourism industry personality and regular contributor to eTurboNews from Sri Lanka, has been appointed to the Board of the Asian Eco-Tourism Network, (AEN) with effect from January 1, 2019.  He will initially function as a non- voting member on the board, for a period of 6 months, after which he will be appointed as full board member at the AGM in June 2019.

Srilal joins another Sri Lankan on the board, Hiran Cooray, Chairman of the Jet Wing group.

The Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) is head quartered in Bangkok, and the founding member countries comprise of Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, China, South Korea, Mongolia, India, Laos, Pakistan, Bhutan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, and Australia. It is a regional initiative of Global Ecotourism Network (GEN)

The key objectives of AEN includes:

  • Connecting with AEN ecotourism stakeholders for knowledge transfer, and marketing and business opportunities
  • Creating new networking opportunities for AEN ecotourism stakeholders.
  • Providing AEN ecotourism stakeholders with modern eLearning tools, training opportunities, and market data.
  • Influencing policy makers and emphasize the importance of embracing the international branding and certification.

AEN endorses the Global Sustainable Tourism council (GSTC) and its sustainability criteria for sustainability for travel providers, accommodations, destinations, and public authorities in Asia and beyond.

Srilal has over 25 years of wide experience in the hospitality industry, firstly in hands operational management, and then in strategic tourism development.

With a first degree in Electrical Engineering, and then embracing the hospitality industry, his career commenced with gaining good hands-on experience in operations, managing Sri Lanka’s leading 200 room 4-star Resort Hotel Riverina Hotel in Bentota.  He then gradually moved up the ladder into leading group operations overlooking 4 resort hotels, and strategic business management, marketing and development

His last 10 years in the private sector was as CEO of Serendib Leisure Management, which had a portfolio of 3 popular resort hotels under its management. He is credited with transforming one of the group’s hotels, Hotel Sigiriya, into a well-known eco-friendly hotel, during his tenure as CEO.  The hotel went onto win several awards both nationally and internationally for its work on sustainable development and consumption practices. PATA commissioned a case study on the success story of the hotel.

For his efforts he was awarded the Green Jobs award in 2008 by the Government of Sri Lanka

Srilal has also had a considerable exposure in the international hospitality arena, participating and presenting papers in many international symposiums, workshops and travel fairs, particularly in the Asia Pacific Region.

He was the President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), the main private sector tourism organization in Sri Lanka from 2009 to 2010.

After working in the Private Sector, he led the very successful EU funded SWITCH ASIA  ‘Greening Sri Lanka Hotels’ project administered by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce which was Sri Lanka’s main tourism sustainability platform. The project was adjudged as the best EU SWITCH ASIA project in South Asia and was showcased at the EU in Brussels.

Commenting on this prestigious appointment, Miththapala said “I am deeply humbled, and at the same time proud, to receive this international recognition for the work I have done to promote sustainable tourism development in our country. It is indeed a great honour. I will now try to share my knowledge, and experience I have gained, and the lessons I have learned in trying promoting sustainable tourism development in Sri Lanka, with other interested countries in Asia. ”

He quipped   “Ironically sometimes it is people in other countries who recognise your efforts“, perhaps giving vent to his frustrations with the tourism authorities in Sri Lanka with whom he has gained little traction to further the cause of sustainable tourism development. “The private players are the ones who are currently spearheading this. There is no clear policy or focus by the authorities.”

Now retired, he engages in various consultancy assignments in Sustainable Tourism Development, Environment & Wild Life. He has worked with many private sector organizations, including several leading NGO’s and a short stint with a World Bank project in India.

Srilal has also been a visiting guest lecturer at the Plymouth University UK and Monash University Melbourne on Sustainability themes. He also conducts training workshops in sustainable consumption practices, gives lectures and presentations on Sustainability, Wild life and environment to schools and other organizations. He has been the key note speaker at several eco-tourism and sustainable tourism forums.

He is a fellow of both the Institute of Electrical Engineers UK, and Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality UK.

During his free time he now pursues his passion of enjoying wild life, environment, and studying and observing wild elephants.