An international seminar on “The Importance of Sustainability for Future Tourism” was recently held at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, Colombo, where industry experts from Kuoni; The Travel Foundation, UK; and Travel Life, UK were present.
Ms. Florence Gambarota, Deputy Head of Finance, delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Dr. Nalaka Godehewa, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), graced the occasion as special invitees.
Over 100 sales and marketing staff of travel agencies and hotels were enthusiastic participants at this important half-day seminar, which was followed by lunch.
At the seminar, the foreign representatives stated that industries can no longer ignore environment and sustainable consumption practices (SCP), because the current traveler is demanding to know such details of the destination and hotels they are using. It was mentioned that from a recent study done in the UK, it was found that some 22 percent of all customers booking holidays today, decide after considering aspects of sustainability practiced by the prospective hotel they are booking. The need to have some form of formal certification, or acceptable accreditation scheme was also stressed, where the Travelife certification for hotels, was seen as the preferred option by most tour operators in the UK and Europe.
Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, in his address, took the example of the apparel industry in Sri Lanka, where he said ten years ago, scant respect was paid for environmental and other CSR issues. Today, to merely exist and be competitive in the international markets, the apparel industry has to practice a high level of SCP. He cautioned that the tourism industry could also face the same situation in the years to come.
The EU-sponsored Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Project (GSLH) provides all the support to registered hotels to become greener by working closely with the technical team, which offers free audits, training, and intervention guidance. Mr Srilal Miththapala, the Project Director, outlined the work done with some 200 registered hotels so far.
The speakers expressed their gratitude to the European Union for funding the timely initiative and also to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, which is the implementing arm of the EU-SWITCH Asia GSLH Project. The Travel Foundation UK, a partner in the GSLH project, sponsored the event.
PHOTO (L to R): Harshini Halangoda, European Union to Sri Lanka & the Maldives; Florence Gambarota, Deputy Head of Finance, delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Srilal Miththapala, Project Director, Switch Asia, greening hotel project; Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Prema Cooray, MD/CEO, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (Solutions); Fiona Humphries, Relationship Manager, Travel Life UK; Mathia Leisinger, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Kuoni Worldwide; Stuart Woodham, Environment Manager, Travel Foundation, UK