Sustainability is the key to tourism development in Sri Lanka

9 Jul

Sustainability is a big buzz word globally, and it is increasingly shaping the way how businesses think and operate. In the travel and tourism sector, which is the largest industry worldwide, sustainability has become a key driver helping market airlines, destinations, hotels & tours.

For us in Sri Lanka, the tourism industry is bringing a whole new world of opportunities for economic development, especially in the rural areas.  Integrated nature of the tourism industry is such that the economic benefits always spread across the entire country, almost all the people. Tourism also helps us to look after our natural & cultural resources.

Aitken Spence Hotels Group has come a very long way in making their hotels sustainable. According to Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of the Aitken Spence Hotels Management (Pvt) Ltd. which operates Sri Lanka’s largest hotel portfolio, the Group’s sustainability practices have been adopted long before sustainability became fashionable in the international tourism industry. Mr. Hapugoda said “Aitken Spence  has  invested in lot of time and financial resources  over the decades to make our hotels world class case study examples of sustainability. We have found out that our business associates and our guests are keen to learn about the sustainability practices of the hotels than ever before. The unique sustainability features of our hotels are clearly giving us a marketing advantage.  Our expertise gained in sustainability in Sri Lanka is spreading across to our hotels in the Maldives, India & Oman. ”

Sustainable tourism is on the rise in Sri Lanka, with consumer demand growing, travel industry suppliers are developing new green programmes, and the government is encouraging sustainable practices in tourism. But what does “sustainable tourism” really mean? How can it be measured and credibly demonstrated, in order to build consumer confidence, promote efficiency, and fight false claims? Mr Hapugoda emphasizing the importance of credibility & sustainability reporting said, “There are internationally accepted standard guidelines & frameworks for sustainability implementation, evaluation, data collection and reporting.  If Sri Lankan hotels want external parties to recognize their efforts and build credibility it is very important to adopt these guidelines to share information on what they have achieved and disclose information on an universally accepted format”.

The Sustainability reporting framework developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) complying with  the G3 guidelines and indicator protocols for economic, environment, human rights, labour, product responsibility and societal performance. The report outlines the company’s progress in embedding the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact and Climate Change mitigation actions.

Media Release – 09 July 2010

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