Bringing pride to Sri Lanka, Heritance Kandalama won ‘Asia’s Responsible Tourism Award’ in the Large Hotel Category at the ITB Asia Tourism Trade Show held at the Suntec City Convention Centre, Singapore on 21 October 2010.
‘Asia’s Responsible Tourism Awards’ is organised by Wild Asia and it is the only tourism award of its kind in Asia. This annual award aims to recognise accommodation sector and tour operators in Asia who are making a difference to sustainable tourism.
The awards showcase exemplary resorts, hotels and tour operators that are committed to environmentally and socially responsible practices.
This year’s awards attracted a larger and more diverse number of participants, from India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand, Cambodia, China, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Every year, the judging panel select two finalists for each category based on criteria such as sense of place, whether tourists understand their destinations in terms of the cultural and ecological context; whether the responsible tourism efforts are long-term; involvement of guests, how much the operators involve their guests in their responsible tourism practices; how much sustainability is part of the day-to-day operations and how the operators strive to improve their responsible tourism efforts continuously.
General Manager Heritance Kandalama Jeevaka Weerakone, who accepted the award, said: “It is a great honour to receive this award and we will continually raise the bar in making Heritance Kandalama an example in Sri Lanka and the world, at the same time developing it into a learning centre for responsible tourism.”
Heritance Kandalama, a hotel committed to sustainable practices from conceptualisation to construction to its day-to-day operations was named the winner of the Large Accommodation Category. According to the judges, Heritance Kandalama’s all-round commitment and practices gave it the edge over Malaysia’s Frangipani Resort, Langkawi who was placed second in the same category.
In the Small to Medium Category, the Sarinbuana Ecolodge in Bali won the award closely competing with Soneva Gili in the Maldives. Andaman Discoveries from Thailand won the award in the Best Responsible Tour Operator Category.
Malin Hapugoda, Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotels, commenting on the awards, said: “Heritance Kandalama is well-known for its green architecture and eco tourism practices which have been nurtured since the inception of the hotel in 1994. The hotel has a green philosophy that covers essential responsible tourism practices such as providing benefits to local communities, protecting and conserving natural environment and mitigating climate change. We believe in championing sustainable tourism safeguarding the very own resources that our business is dependent on for the future of tourism industry in Sri Lanka.”
He added: “Winning the best responsible tourism award for large scale hotels in Asia will certainly help us not only project advantages of implementing responsible tourism as part of a tourism business strategy but also promote Sri Lanka as a sustainable destination.”
The award received by Heritance Kandalama has given Sri Lanka tourism a boost to project its image as a responsible tourism destination.
Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, sharing his views on the award, commented: “I understand that this year’s awards attracted a larger number and a more diverse group of participants, from India, the Maldives, China, the Philippines, Irian Jaya in Indonesia and also from Sri Lanka. This is a great achievement for Sri Lanka Tourism especially at a time when we are working towards accelerated tourism development with sustainability and responsible tourism in mind. I am thrilled to know that Heritance Kandalama was named the winner of the Large Scale Accommodation Category.”
A growing concern of the tourism industry is how it will address the complexities of building sustainable destinations which are facing the challenges of global warming and climate change. According to Wild Asia “sustainable destinations can be made a reality by promoting responsible tourism and sharing resources to inspire change from within the travel industry. Wild Asia is guided by UN’s Sustainable Tourism Criteria. The criteria serves as the standard that any tourism business should aspire to reach in order to protect and sustain the world’s natural and cultural resources while ensuring tourism meets its potential as a tool for poverty alleviation.”
The event was co-organized by ITB Asia, Wild Asia and The Green Circuit, and brought together sustainable tourism practitioners to share, engage, learn and be inspired to make a difference.
Heritance Kandalama has won a large number of awards as one of the most eco-friendly hotels in the world. It has set precedence to other hotels on how they too can be effective responsible tourism players by contributing in terms of conserving the natural environment, protecting bio diversity, empowering local communities, supporting livelihoods dependent on tourism, preserving local traditions, arts and crafts and mitigating climate change especially by using bio mass as renewable energy.