A long-standing leader in the hospitality industry, Chandra Wickramasinghe, was awarded the prestigious title ‘Tourism Legend’ at the sixth Sri Lanka Tourism awards hosted by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority on 6 December 2018.
His key achievements include the forming of the inbound tour operator Connaissance De Ceylan in the early 1980s. Thereafter, he ventured into hoteliering by building Culture Club Kandalama in 1994 (now known as Amaya Lake) and then, Le Kandyan (now known as Amaya Hills). His passion and interest in building unique and authentic properties continued as he embarked on a remarkable project in the East, ‘Maalu Maalu Resort & Spa’ in Passikudah after a 30-year civil war in the country.
This success inspired him to continue on this journey and he proceeded to create the following hotels: Aliya Resort & Spa – Sigiriya, Kithala Resort – Tissamaharama, Mountbatten Bungalow – Kandy, Scottish Planter Glendevon Bungalow – Nuwara-Eliya (The Best Bungalow in Sri Lanka, 2018) and Ayurvie – Weligama, which now fall under the well-recognised, Theme Resorts & Spas cluster. Moreover, he also heads CDC Events (Connaissance De Ceylan Events) which is one of the most recognised event management companies, in the country. He has been extremely successful in all his ventures, yet, we know that his journey and his achievements are far from over as he has many other projects in the pipeline.
Chandra has always believed in being a pioneer in every project he undertakes and this has been proven by all of his ventures. His success has come from stepping out of the box and having faith in his unique visions and dreams, keeping in mind the guests and customers he is catering to, in order to provide an exceptional and high-quality service. Whilst keeping our culture and the environment in mind, the development and continuance of his business remains sustainable and eco-friendly.
As an iconic figure in Sri Lanka Tourism, Chandra has been heavily involved in the tourism governing bodies over the years. He was the former president of the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL), Member of Tourism Think Tank, Former President of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) – and a member of the board up-to date, Board Member of both Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
Moreover, he plays a major role in many eco-friendly and socio-economic projects in the country. This includes ‘Plant a Coral’ at Maalu Maalu Resort which is done hand-in-hand with the Wildlife Research and Conservation Trust (WRCT), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Tokyo Cement, volunteers from the University of Peradeniya and the locals in the Passikudah area, ‘Reconstruire et Vivre’ R.e.V (Rebuild & Live), a non-profit organisation guided by Chandra, that conducts classes at three computer centres, three pre-schools, one language centre built by them for the students of the area, around 100 houses constructed for victims of the 2004 tsunami and many other projects for the community and country.
Additionally, in recognition of his services, Chandra was bestowed the honorary distinction of Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, by the French Government. This is a French order of merit with membership awarded by the President of the French Republic and is one of the highest national honours in France. He received this for his expertise in the field of tourism and for his contribution towards strengthening the economic and cultural ties, as well as mutual understanding between France and Sri Lanka. His involvement in the nation of France also led him to be the founding president of Alliance Française de Kotte.
Chandra Wickramasinghe is an individual who has contributed much to the betterment of Sri Lanka. Therefore, the title ‘Tourism Legend’ is rightfully deserved for all the good and persevered work that he has done and will continue to do in the years to come.