Adding yet another feather to its cap, Dutch Bay Resorts Kalpitiya earlier this month brought home the award for ‘Investment in People’ by Enterprise Asia (www.enterpriseasia.org) at the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards 2014 (AREA 2014) South Asia.
Held at JW Marriot New Delhi Aero city, the awards was presented in recognition of the resort’s outstanding and exemplary achievements in social and responsible entrepreneurship.
Located in what is known as the largest tourism development project – the Kalpitiya Tourism Promotion Zone – Dutch Bay Resorts was the first to start operations, laying its foundation stone in 2009.
For the award, in keeping with the required formalities, the resort went through seven months of extensive selection process including site audits by an audit team from Malaysia, continuous paperwork, and interviews, etc.
Chairman/Director Marketing and Promotions Neil D’ Silva in an interview with the Daily FT said the recognition was due to the company’s strategy on recruiting the less fortunate in the area and integrating them into the development creating a win-win situation for both parties while enhancing the living standards of the community around them.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
By Cheranka Mendis
Q: Could you share with us your winning CSR program?
A: Our strategy remains to employ the less fortunate community of Kalpitiya, which began with local traders, industries, construction workers from the point of construction of the resort followed by employing girls and boys, ex-housemaids and the fisher community, into our operation; creating a perfect profit module for the local community.
The underprivileged who hardly had two meals due to migratory fishing community has now been incorporated in to our operation. Moreover, the hotel was constructed by the local people of the area under close project supervision. This strategy not only helped us minimise our development costs but also train local people towards Phase II and Phase III of the development. The team has grown from zero hospitality knowledge to excelling and passionately offering unique hospitality today.
Q: Why is it unique compared to other programs – what are the impacts and benefits?
A: A hungry man can be given a meal today but he is hungry again tomorrow. Instead, we train them to adapt in to a profit module and train them to build our hotel, and then maintain and manage the hotel through their family members and loved ones who gave up education long ago.
Most women we have enrolled in the profit module had gone overseas in the past years to work as housemaids. Such ladies have gone through various trauma and hardly made any money. Today, Dutch Bay makes them earn a better salary and gives them the additional benefit of being with their loved ones after working hours. They are closer to their loved ones and are loyal to us.
Q: Why did you decided to give responsible and sustainable business practices a key priority in the organisation?
A: We live in the 21st Century where humanity is forgotten in the sense of respect, due to monitory values. People have built an easy strategy to blame governments for everything and find other parties to blame when their profit module fails.
At Dutch Bay Resorts, we concentrate on a passionate-driven strategy where nature and the gifted people become the basic foundation of the profit module
Q: How do you view CSR in your organisation’s operations?
A: CSR seems to be a much commercialised word today, and is used to gain a level of respect in the corporate world. But the real end-users such as the people and a sustainable environment is the answer to a successful organisation.
We have changed the concept of ‘tourism’ where the module is customised accordingly to the honest hearts of the local people of our organisation. It was a simple trying-out session that we found successful and thus implemented it to our system.
Q: What are the short term and long term goals of the program?
A: Some of the goals are lined with uplifting their lifestyles and improving their hygiene conditions. We also assist them to consume healthy meals, while their children get the ability to go to school. Our profit module will enable them to buy necessary tools and books for their children. Our training will make them ready to be involved in future hotels in the area recognised under the Government for high-end resort developments.
Q: What does winning the AREA 2014 award mean to the company?
A: We are very privileged and is extremely proud that AREA recognised our unique tourism module in the harshest environment where there is no accessibility and no basic infrastructure such as water and electricity available.
Yet, we took the challenge of being the catalyst to face such challenges and come up with a sustainable module which can enhance the rich bio diversity and the innocent poor people of the area. This unique Award is an example of our long term vision that ‘sustainable profit modules can co-exists in rich bio diversities where socio economical factor will be the deciding results of such projects and organisations.’
This recognition is therefore not only a valuable one for Dutch Bay Resorts but to Sri Lanka as a whole.