On the 27th of September under the theme of ‘Tourism and Biodiversity’, World Tourism day will be acknowledged and celebrated. The official celebrations will be hosted by China, with the date being globally recognized by a multitude of nations organizing their own individual events in lieu of the day. Aitken Spence Hotels will too play its part, by organizing and staging art competitions and exhibitions for school children at its hotels. The hotels will involve rural schools within close proximity to the properties in order to promote its sustainability related initiatives. The hotels have been interacting with schools in their respective areas during the month of September in order to encourage maximum participation.
Mr. Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels stated “The objective of this school art competition is to raise awareness of the close relationship between tourism development, biodiversity & conservation as well as to recognize the talent of school children. The Tourism industry and biodiversity are closely related as most of Sri Lanka’s tourism offers are linked to its natural environment and biodiversity”.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, biodiversity based tourism represents an important source of income to the world’s developing nations. Seventy per cent of these populations inhabit rural areas and therefore depend heavily on biodiversity of their survival and well-being.
UNWTO Secretary General Teleb Rifai in his World Tourism Day message stated “Recognizing the value of earth’s natural capital to its long–term sustainability, the tourism industry is called upon to protect and sustainably manage biodiversity. A healthy tourism industry depends on a healthy resource base, and sustainable growth in tourism means increase funds for conservation”.
Sustainable tourism enhances crucial economic incentives for habitat protection. Revenues from the tourism industry are often channeled back into nature conservation or capacity building programs for local communities in order to advance management of protected areas. Furthermore, tourism can be a key vehicle in raising awareness and endorsing a positive outlook towards biodiversity conservation amongst the millions of individuals who travel in a year.
At each Aitken Spence Hotel, the winners of the art competition will be awarded individual certificates and cash prizes including equipment for their respective schools. Aitken Spence Hotels will select the top three paintings by the children from all the participating schools and give due recognition to the children and their schools in order to nurture their talent as well as enhance prospects for their further education. The initiatives made by Aitken Spence Hotels for conservation and protection of the environment have been recognized and noted as global case studies on sustainable tourism. In addition to being the largest resort group in Sri Lanka, the company is rapidly growing as a regional player with a large portfolio of hotels under the respective brands of ‘Heritance Hotels & Resorts’, ‘Aitken Spence Hotels & Resorts’ and ‘Adaaran Resorts’ in India, Maldives and Oman’.
Mother Nature has a million untapped resources, but one that can never go unnoticed is its natural beauty. Through tourism’s hand in hand promotion of biodiversity, Aitken Spence Hotels too perseveres to strive and do its part in enhancing Mother Nature’s image.
Media Release – 24 September 2010