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Switch-Asia to host tourism sustainability seminar

Jun 27, 2012 4:09:29 PM - www.ft.lk

By Cheranka Mendis
With travellers becoming increasingly eco-conscious and demanding data on the environmental sustainability of hotels prior to booking, Greening Sri Lanka Hotels, an European Commission-funded project under the SWITCH-Asia program, will host a half day workshop on ‘The Importance of Sustainability for Future Tourism’ next Wednesday.

Scheduled to be held at the Cinnamon Lakeside, the workshop will be attended by foreign tour operators and agencies along with local marketing staff of hotels and senior engineers. Switch-Asia Project Director Srilal Miththapala yesterday noted that some 150 participants were expected to attend the seminar, which is being jointly organised by Walkers Tours, Kuoni, Travel Foundation UK, Travel Life UK and the SWITCH-Asia program.
“Kuoni has come forward and offered their support in taking the message forward. They have informed us that according to their research 22% of travellers are placing their bookings after ensuring that hotels they stay at are sustainable,” Mithapala said. The seminar therefore has been organised to drive home the importance of sustainability in hotels for the future. It will be held free of charge.
As a follow up, Miththapala and his team are now working on inviting foreign journalists and environmentalists to Sri Lanka to showcase some of the best green hotels in the country. Among these are Hotel Goldi Sands, Jetwing Sea, Jetwing Beach, Randoli Hotel, Cinnamon Grand and Chaaya Hotels.
Miththapala noted that as at now 220 hotels in Sri Lanka have registered with the Switch-Asia program. “We are working with SLTDA to make proper green accreditation scheme for hotels. It is now at the final stages.”
Switch-Asia has also put together new hotel development guidelines for new investors and provided a checklist for environmental and energy conservation measures for construction of new hotels while working with local hotels to produce edible landscapes, also known as organic gardens.
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has also made a place for SWITCH-Asia in its Corporate Social Responsibility and Governance Awards by adding a new category for SWITCH-Asia.
“We want to make sure the hoteliers know what to expect. More and more travellers are looking for sensibility and good environmental practices. Looking forward they must be aware of this and start working on it so that they could compete successfully with neighbouring destinations which have already realised this,” Miththapala said.