Jetwing Yala – Winner, Resource Efficiency

WINNER – 2015 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Best in Resource Efficiency 

Boasting Sri Lanka’s largest privately owned solar installation (other institutions have visited looking to develop similar systems), guests at Jetwing Yala can fully relax thanks to the resort’s commitment to renewable resources. Jetwing Yala uses a “triple P” concept to focus their sustainability efforts: Profit, People, and Planet, choosing initiatives based on their environmental impact, community benefit, and projected return.

From the designing stages, the hotel built minimize energy consumption, incorporating natural light and ventilation and utilizing natural materials into the construction and has since incorporated a number impressive renewable energy initiatives, many of which are “firsts” for the Sri Lankan hospitality industry.

In addition to their solar installation Jetwing Yala uses a Vapor Absorption Chiller (VAC), which runs sustainably via steam from biomass boilers and supplies the hotel with enough renewable energy to meet the entire hotel’s air conditioning requirements. Both of these projects have been visited and studied by the government and private corporations and now more than 20 VAC units are being used in other industries.

Guests and staff are also encouraged to also do their part to keep their eco-footprint small through non-intrusive, informational signs in guest rooms and educational programs developed for staff members. Embarking on a “green” tour of Jetwing Yala lets guests experience Jetwing Yala’s initiatives while learning more about ways to be environmentally-friendly during their stay.

Thanks to the success of their current renewable energy programs Jetwing Yala is making great strides to achieve carbon neutrality. Their plan for future growth includes the following initiatives:

  • Expanding their solar installation to offset the hotel’s entire day-time electricity requirement
  • Install a biogas digester to treat organic waste from the kitchen
  • Use waste water, which is treated on site and currently allocated for gardening and cooling towers, in cistern flushing as well
  • Develop a rainwater harvesting system to be utilize during dry seasons
  • Create a “zero plastic” future by installing a water bottling plant using only reusable glass bottles

For more information about Jetwing Yala, visit their website: http://www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingyala/

Watch their video here

2015 Responsible Tourism Awards Finalists

PATA Travel Mart has Sustainability Centre Stage – Wild Asia Awards

Now in their ninth year, the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, has just announced their 2015 Finalists.

The Wild Asia Awards was the first of its kind to identify Asia based sustainability superstars in the travel industry, and remains the only regional responsible tourism awards. The Awards are based on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Criteria, and provide a unique opportunity for tourism businesses and projects to benchmark their work against international standards. Participants also benefit from gaining third party verification from the panel of esteemed expert judges.

This September, Winners will be officially announced and celebrated at the 2015 PATA Travel Mart in Bangalore. “Sustainability is one of the main advocacy themes of the Association and an important issue to address when we talk about the responsible development of travel and tourism,” said Mario Hardy, PATA CEO. “We are therefore delighted to host the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards at this year’s Travel Mart and share in the celebration of tourism organisations that truly exemplify what it means to be sustainable. Wild Asia is a valued PATA Sustainability Partner, and a special partner of the Responsible Travel Pavilion at PTM, a space where like-minded organisations can gather, share knowledge, and build business.”

Best in Community Engagement and Development
This award recognizes exceptional commitment to supporting the local community and economy in which your business operates.

Best in Protection of Natural Areas & Wildlife Conservation
This award recognizes tourism businesses’ consideration of their local environment and biodiversity by actively supporting and protecting their natural assets.

Best in Resource Efficiency
This award recognizes excellence in waste, water and energy management and sustainable architectural design in order to minimize your business’s environmental impact.

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Operator
This award recognizes the tourism operator that excels by taking into consideration all the key principles of responsible tourism (maximum positive impacts to the local community and minimum negative impacts to the environment) and awards innovation for this most inspiring tourism business of the year.

Most Inspiring Responsible Tourism Initiative
This award recognizes grass-roots initiatives championing responsible tourism within their destination.

Over the next couple of months, all Finalists will undergo further rigorous investigation to determine the 2015 Winners. During this time, thorough open-source articles will become available on the Wild Asia website for each of these businesses or projects. The aim of sharing their successes, challenges, and
lessons learned, is to inspire and influence the industry to adopt measures to become more socially and environmentally responsible.

For those wishing to join the PATA Travel Mart and celebrate alongside the winners, the deadline for applying to showcase your business at the Responsible Travel Pavilion is 30th June 2015. Full details can be found at here.

The Rainforest Ecolodge: Supporting Biodiversity in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve

LOGO_Inspiring Stories from Destinations_2012-page-001In year 2000 The Competitiveness Initiative (TCI) was launched by USAID at the invitation of the Government to enhance the potential of the tourism profile of Sri Lanka. Stakeholders of the tourism industry were clustered in the form of The Tourism Cluster (TTC), to increase competitiveness and to bring them together to develop joint initiatives that explored diversification of the industry. As such, TTC strategized targeting the higher‐end segments of the tourism market, through ecotourism.

A multi‐sector working group including the TTC, leading academia ‐including the University of Peradeniya and Colombo and the Forest Department ‐ was formed, with the goal of developing a model for future ecotourism in Sri Lanka. Proceeding further, in 2002, a location in the Sinharaja Division of the Enselwatte Estate in Deniyaya owned by Mathurata Plantations Pvt. Ltd. was selected, and an Prof Kotagama of University of Colombo initial investment for development was put‐together by nine companies including five leading tourism companies in Sri Lanka. TCI provided the required ecotourism expertise through Megan Epler Wood – Founder of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), and technical support for the implementation of the project.

The responsibility of facilitating this programme was assigned to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, under the guidance of Prema Cooray, the then Secretary‐General (2003‐2008). Planning of The Rainforest Ecolodge began in February 2006 and was opened to the public in January 2012.

Sri Lanka rainforest-ecolodgeThe Rainforest Ecolodge is situated in the Sinharaja Division of the Enselwatte Estate in Deniyaya. This plot of previously cultivated tea land, borders the south‐eastern fringe of the Sinharaja forest reserve, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site inscribed in 1988. The Sinharaja is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a Biodiversity Hotspot as designated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). All these titles highlight the importance of the forest reserve, and hence the location of the ecolodge, in terms of its biodiversity as well as its fragility. As such, in selecting this location, the management of the ecolodge has recognized the importance of committing to the conservation of its surroundings and promoting the cause through its development and operations.

Biodiversity of the Sinharaja Forest Reserve

The vegetation that predominates the Sinharaja forest reserve, belongs to the tropical (lower montane) wet evergreen forest type. This is a unique type of forest which is very low in abundance in a global context, and is the only piece of pristine forest that Sri Lanka can claim ownership to.

Most of the plant species present in this forest is considered ‘Rare’ and over 60% of these species display endemicity, or in other words, is prevalent only in this particular locality. This unique vegetation type therefore also plays host to a unique collection of faunal species which consists of over 90% of Sri Lanka’s endemic bird species and over 50% of endemic butterflies, mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Some Globally Threatened Species found at the Rainforest Ecolodge site:

  • Urocissa ornate – Common names: Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, Kehi Bella
  • Prionailurus viverrinus – Common names: Fishing Cat, Handun Diviya, Koddy Pulli
  • Ratufa macroura – Common names: Giant Squirrel, Dandu Lena, Mali Anil
  • Loris Tardigradus – Common names: Red Slender Loris, Una Hapuluwa, Thevangu
  • Macaca sinica – Common names: Toque Monkey, Rilawa, Kurangu
  • Trachypithecus vetulus – Common names: Purple faced Leaf Monkey, Kalu Wandura, Mundi

Sri Lanka - Bird The part of the fringe forest with which The Rainforest Ecolodge comes into contact with, displays another unique feature in which it hosts flocks of birds – singular and mixed species –that seem to thrive in this particular zone where the tropical forest meets the monoculture tea plantation.

A Training Manual for Nature Interpreters has also been put‐together by The Rainforest Ecolodge for the benefit of the staff, guests and visitors. This is the first time such a publication has been developed by an Ecolodge in Sri Lanka to build capacity and increase awareness about the Ecolodge and the Sinharaja forest reserve.

Innovative multisector approach

This first major collaborated public‐private sector initiative was led by leading leisure corporates. The innovative funding mechanism that employed public private partnership also had its advantages and disadvantages but led the way to the application of global best practices which are now, visible learning tools of this model initiative.

Community development initiatives

The Rainforest Ecolodge’s extensive development initiatives which began with the USAID’s GDA‐supported SENCE program in 2005 are still active and ongoing as a part of the ecolodge’s routine operations. Under the SENCE program, 35 brand new residential units were constructed for members of the community who were requested to relocate when the area with their existing homesteads was selected for the construction of the ecolodge. In addition to these, buildings purposed for a crèche, a primary school and a healthcare center were also constructed for the benefit of the community members.

The SENCE program also supported the execution of a number of studies including scientific and socio‐economic surveys to gauge the relevant existing conditions and challenges for further development. Observations recorded during these surveys and stated recommendations were converted into actions through the implementation of numerous workshops, health clinics and practical sessions that involved almost 100 individuals from the surrounding community. Such workshops on various topics are still being facilitated by the ecolodge upon requests from the community.

The Rainforest Ecolodge also played a key role in ensuring the community’s access to energy and potable water resources as well as public transportation and road infrastructure. Human resources required at the ecolodge during construction, and now during operations have been recruited from

Heritance Kandalama, Sri Lanka – Resource Efficiency

winner[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Heritance Kandalama for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner. This award recognizes excellence in waste, water and energy management and sustainable architectural design in order to minimize your business’s environmental impact.

Heritance Kandalama is an architectural masterpiece by Geoffrey Bawa, built overlooking the eighth wonder of the world – the rock fortress of Sigiriya. The hotel sits at the heart of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, close to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Our favourite things about them!

  • A well known contributor to sustainable tourism practices across Asia Pacific.
  • First-mover advantage in sustainable tourism certification in the region.
  • Excellent Resource efficiency policy, clear targets and action plans.

 Inspiring Management

  • Winner of National Productivity Awards Sri Lanka for Service sector.
  • Gold Medal for Cleaner Production, National Cleaner Production Awards.
  • 2012 Finalist Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards ‘Most Inspiring Operator’.
  • ISO140001, ISO50001 management systems.

Resource Efficiency

  • ISO140001, ISO50001 management systems for energy and water conservation.
  • Practice 7R’s: Reject, Reduce, Reuse, Reclaim, Repair, Replace and Recycle for sourcing and disposing (waste is monitored)
  • 13% renewable energy
  • Engage guests with environmentally friendly activities
  • GRI Reporting, National Green Reporting System of Sri Lanka (NGRs) for water withdrawl and consumption
  • Purchasing policy in place to promote local products
  • Deliver presentations to special interest groups on the environment
  • Three sewage treatment plants which process 100% of water, sludge is used as compost on their 50 acre land or sold to guests.
  • Organic waste is sent to local piggery farm for food.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Use environmentally friendly products and all chemicals used are certified as biodegradable by the Central Environment Authority of Sri Lanka.
[Download not found]

Ranweli Holiday Village, Sri Lanka – Protection of Natural Areas & Wildlife

finalist[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his post congratulates Ranweli Holiday Village for being recognized as a 2013 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Finalist. This award recognizes tourism businesses’ consideration of their local environment and biodiversity by actively supporting and protecting their natural assets.

Ranweli Holiday Village is an eco-friendly resort located on a 22-acre peninsula where mangrove forests and winding rivers converge to meet the sea. Located only 18 kms from Colombo’s International Airport, Ranweli is the perfect base to explore the fascinating history, culture and nature of Sri Lanka.

Our favourite things about them!

  • Solid business record – 38 years in operation, 75% occupancy.
  • Good practices to reduce pollution, treat waste water, re-use grey water and minimize non-recyclable waste.
  • Good practices to protect native species.
  • Good idea to incorporate environmental education into welcome cocktail party.
  • Lots of tangible examples: e.g. contributions to conservation, education, carbon offsetting, sewage treatment, green purchasing, and mangrove rehab.
  • Massive impact (almost 50,000 guests / year).
  • A recognised ecolodge in Sri Lanka with a proven track-record for responsible approached to tourism.
  • Makes a concerted effort to protect natural areas and conserve wildlife.

Inspiring Management

  • One of the Top 50 Eco-Lodges of 2009, National Geographic Adventure magazine.
  • EU SWITCH – Asia Greening Hotels Awards 2012 Certificate of Merit for Energy and Water Conservation and Waste Management.

Community Engagement and Development

  • Contributed donations to a local conservation project and worked with school children on their mangrove rehabilitation project.

Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

  • Deliver talks, guided walks and welcome briefings to educate guests on local natural area and how to reduce waste.
  • Conduct carbon offsetting project.
  • Mangrove rehabilitation project close to hotel premises looked after by the hotel.
  • Biological sewage treatment plant onsite.
  • Waste water is treated and recycled for watering plants.
  • Has a green purchasing policy to reduce non-recyclable waste, e-waste returned to supplier.
  • Lobster not served during breeding season, and not purchased if under 200g.
  • 25% of property area remains undeveloped.
  • Use of native plants, e.g. indigenous fruit trees, herbal garden, food plants to attract butterflies.

Travel Foundation Sri Lanka

Top 3 Winner of the 2011 ‘Inspiring Stories from Destinations’ Competition

sri lanka beach boysIn 2008 The Travel Foundation (UK) started working with ‘beach boys’ in Sri Lanka along the Bentota and Beruwela coastline. The Foundation exists to protect and enhance the environment and improve the well-being of destination communities, as well as the holiday experience for visitors.

They initiated the work in Sri Lanka because hotels were receiving a high volume of complaints from tourists about the ‘hassle’ from vendors on the beach, known locally as ‘beach boys’. ‘Beach boys’ earn a living for themselves and their families by selling products and services to tourists. Due to complaints, hotels began to erect fences so that the vendors were separated from holidaymakers.

The aim of the project was to minimise hassle for tourists and create opportunities for local communities to make a living from tourism, by providing quality services to tourists.

To do so, dynamic training was provided to the ‘beach boys’ so that they can provide a high level of customer service. Vendors benefited from learning about community tourism opportunities, service standards, cultural differences, know your customer, guiding techniques, team work, health and safety.

sri lanka bikeThe Travel Foundation encouraged the engagement between local hotels in order to develop a good working relationship with the beach operators. On completion of the training course, participants graduate as ‘Beach Operators’, clearly identifiable by their t-shirts.

The results of the project have been fantastic and complaints from tourists have decreased significantly. One of the Travel Foundation’s biggest goals was to create sustainable livelihoods for ‘beach boys’ and it is positive to report that beach operators experienced an increase in income. To date more than 250 beach operators have been trained.

Most importantly, following the training, beach operators now see themselves as professionals and they feel respected by their family and community. Beach operators say they feel proud and take pride in their work

Of the participants who have benefited from training in customer service skills, they are no longer seen as ‘hassle’ by tourists…securing a brighter future for themselves and their families, as well as offering holidaymakers a fantastic service.

Watch video of Nishad’s story