Jetwing celebrates Earth Day

Tuesday, 1 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Jetwing Hotels and Jetwing Travels came together once again to commemorate their Jetwing Earth Day; a celebration of the success of the Jetwing Eternal Earth Project (JEEP). This year, Jetwing chose to take the programme to the history rich city of Galle, amidst the backdrop of the prestigious Galle Literary Festival.

A simple ceremony was held at National Maritime Museum, with Professor Sarath Kotagama – Head of the Department of Zoology, University of Colombo doing the honours as the keynote speaker at the event, school children from the foster schools of each Jetwing property, earth teams of Jetwing hotels and other distinguished invitees witnessing the event.

The day commenced with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by Prof. Kotagama, Hiran Cooray, chairman of Jetwing, along with Brigadier Aruna Ariyasinghe, Commander Southern Province, Sri Lanka Army.  Hiran Cooray then opened the event by thanking those who have committed themselves to the JEEP initiative from the beginning, and the schoolchildren, their teachers, principals and families for their enthusiasm.

The main ceremony was held with the finals of the Inter-Foster School oratory competition on the topic ‘What we can do to minimise the ill effects of climate change’, with the entries for the Poster Competition prominently displayed in the hall as well. Iranganie Serasinghe, the patron of the project, was unable to attend, but however said “I consider the Jetwing Eternal Earth Project tremendously important in man’s desperate effort to postpone or much better still to banish forever the terrible prospect of our mother earth becoming a place where no living can survive.

True, our project is a tiny effort in a task of such immense magnitude. But as I have said before, little drops of water, little grains of sand make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land. So if all human beings on earth do millions of projects like JEEP, there is great hope that we will achieve our goal. So don’t ever say “what can I do? “and sit back. You and you and you and I must keep pressing forward together to save the one and only home we all have – this beautiful Planet Earth.” via a message.

A highlight of the event was a presentation titled ‘Future Prospects with JEEP’ by Hasantha Lokugamage, which was an informative and comprehensive look into how JEEP has grown from a simple initiative into one that encompasses Jetwing as a whole; and what the future holds for the Project.

The programme ended with an awards presentation to the winners of the competitions held under the project, namely; the Poster Competition, Essay Competition, Oratory Competition, Best Earth Society and Best School Garden, Best Contributor Hotel for carbon absorption by obtaining the most number of sponsors for trees.

JEEP was implemented by Jetwing as a responsible corporate citizen to contribute towards minimising Global warming and its effects for the benefit of mankind. As a responsible tourism partner the project has also been associated to Sri Lanka Tourism’s ‘Earth Lung’ initiative aimed at making Sri Lanka a Great Green Destination.

Under this project a model re-forestation was implemented at Jetwing Hunas Falls, which can be replicated in many other climatic zones as well as in small scale plots of land. Of the hundred acres of barren land, adjacent to the hotel which was allocated for this project, the team was pleased to announce by now approximately 40 acres are planted with around 3422 trees being grown under the method of Analog forestry and forest garden concepts. From this 2700 trees came in as investment to the project by hotel guests as an effort to neutralise effects of carbon emission due to their travel, which is the main funding scheme of the project.     The key objective of the project is to use this model and its process as a method of educating the younger generations through the schools, in order to enable them to secure a safe earth, both for themselves and the generations to follow. Each hotel and other operational units within the Jetwing family have taken on two new foster schools over the year. The objective was to educate children on Global Warming, Bio-diversity, Home/School Gardening and Good Earth Saving Practices’.

JEEP has received tremendous support from principals, teachers and students from the vicinity who visit the forest project and carry out numerous tasks voluntarily for the project. The community involvement of the project is being used to harness their relationship with the tourism industry and make it a catalyst to create awareness among local communities about the value of tourism to the people of Sri Lanka and how to benefit from the industry with no damage to the environment.

 This project has been perceived as an excellent opportunity to promote Sri Lanka as an exemplary Green Destination to the rest of the world. The success of JEEP and its positive effects has also influenced the management to convert Jetwing Hunas Falls into a total eco friendly destination. A Wood Gassifier and a Mini Hydro power project were installed at the hotel, based on this success Another Gassifier has been installed at the soon to be opened Jetwing Blue. The Gassifier will burn Gliricedia Sepium fuelwood in an enclosed chamber, in an environment friendly process to produce hot water for guest use. The strong Jetwing core value system has remained as a key factor in the successful management of the project. This celebration reinforces Jetwing’s commitment to the earth that we have inherited.