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DateLine Friday, 3 August 2007

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Sri Lanka Tourism announces new Destination Social Responsibility Project

Today’s consumer is conscious about environmental and social effects of tourism. With this in mind, the Sri Lanka Tourist Board unveiled plans for a new and exciting project designed to raise Sri Lanka’s profile as a destination, offering a socially and environmentally responsible tourism.

Outlining the rationale behind the ‘Sri Lanka Tourism’s Social Responsibility Service Project’, Chairman of the Tourist Board Renton de Alwis said that today’s brands needed to ensure they met the highest ethical and environmental standards to stay competitive.

“The new plan is designed to bring greater numbers of socially and environmentally-aware tourists to Sri Lanka, and to enhance their holiday experience while here” he said.

Local communities are the focus of the new plan and a key objective is building community support in the development of tourism.

To this end, the plan aims to link communities with tourism activities to ensure that the benefits from tourism actually contributes towards sustainable community development.

Visitors to Sri Lanka who are interested will be able to take part in a community service project in one of five broad areas - carbon off-setting, child welfare, animal welfare, peace education, and facilitation for the differently abled. In doing so, they will be able to have the satisfaction of being involved in a worthy cause while on holiday.

The programme is also designed to mitigate some of the negative publicity coming out of the tourist industry.

“The adverse effects of tourism have often been in the spotlight - with this project, we want to show that tourism can have positive effects for the environment and on the welfare of local communities” de Alwis said.

To achieve these objectives, the Sri Lanka Tourist Board intends creating a special trust fund with the assistance of all major stakeholders as trustees.

The stakeholders will include Board of Airlines (BAR), Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO), Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Tour Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL), Association of Small and Medium Enterprise in Tourism (ASMET), Sri Lanka in Style, Institute of Tour Guide, Lecturers, Chauffeurs Association and Tourist Shops Association, among others.

A broad and multifaceted communications strategy including an internet website, special brochures, and information boards in hotel lobbies and tourist shops will explain the plan, and highlighting tourist establishments that maintain high social and environmental standards.

Sri Lanka is uniquely placed to promote itself as an environmentally and socially responsible destination. In ancient times, its Kings prohibited hunting in vast swathes of jungle - in effect, declaring the world’s first conservation parks - and concern for social wellbeing is inextricably linked with the island’s traditional religions and cultures.

“This plan is an opportunity to highlight these extremely positive aspects of our history and culture” said Renton de Alwis. “And also to show that in the 21st century, Sri Lanka is serious when it comes to promoting sustainable, socially responsible development.”

Ethical Tourism, according to the WTO, is a global tourism segment growing thrice as fast as the industry as a whole,’ he said. The Sri Lanka Tourism’s Social Responsibility Service Project fits well with the broader ‘Sri Lanka Calls’ recovery plan introduced earlier this year.

A key feature of both initiatives is the collaboration between a broad range of stakeholders in the tourist industry.

In addition, while each of the five main areas in the Social Responsibility Project will be led by an appointed Ambassador, the project will draw significantly on the spirit of volunteerism emerging out of the ‘Volunteer to make a difference for Sri Lanka Tourism’ project.

“Ultimately, long term brand success requires more than just making profits” said Additional Director General of the Tourist Board, Dileep Mudadeniya.

“Concerns for social and environmental wellbeing are deeply rooted emotions, and if we can harness these to advance tourism in Sri Lanka and improve social and environmental well being at the same time”, he said.

This project will give the consumer an extra reason to select Sri Lanka as a holiday destination. It is clear that a growing number of tourists want to ‘give something back’ while on holiday.

This plan will give visitors to Sri Lanka the chance to fulfil this wish, and in doing so, contribute towards the sustainable, socially responsible development of local communities which is a win-win situation.

Luring travellers to the ‘city of love’

Venice, a destination that every travel enthusiast aspires to visit at least once, has been made even more attractive by a special travel-plus-accommodation offer from Emirates Holidays, the tour operating arm of the Dubai-based international airline.

Travellers from Colombo can now spend three nights in the city of love by purchasing packages that start at

New service: Emirates began its non-stop service recently at the Grand Canalin Venice.

 just Rs. 225,000 for two people with air fares, fuel surcharges, room taxes and service charges included.

A choice of eight hotels ranging from three-to five-star is on offer through Emirates Holidays in Colombo, providing options to suit many budgets. Extensions from Venice to Verona and the scenic Lake Garda are also available.

“These special packages are the result of a great introductory fare of Rs. 60,300 in celebration of Emirates’ launch of services to Venice on July 1st, and the ability of Emirates Holidays to get unbeatable rates from top-notch hotels,” said Emirates’ Sales Manager in Sri Lanka Devika Ellepola.

The special packages are available to passengers who travel exclusively on Emirates and may even be utilised while travelling onwards to another destination in Europe, she said.

The price includes return air tickets for two with fuel surcharges, accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis for two in standard double rooms, room taxes and service charges. The introductory air fare component of the package is valid till October 31.

Emirates Holidays will also develop customised packages to Venice and other destinations for durations of the travellers’ choice, guarantee the quality of all properties and services, and take care of all arrangements including transfers and excursions, ensuring a hassle-free holiday.

The only city built entirely on water, Venice stands on dozens of islets linked by more than 400 bridges. Places of interest include the Piazza San Marco and the Basilica di Marco, the Doge’s Palace, the Guggenheim collection of modern art, and the Academy of fine arts.

Perhaps the most obvious Venetian experience is a romantic gondola ride along the city’s famed canals, an activity that has defied classification as a cliche despite its undying popularity.

Emirates Holidays, the largest wholesale tour operator in the Gulf and middle East, offers the region’s most comprehensive programme of inclusive vacations. Emirates Holidays launched its latest range of A World of Choice 2007-08 brochures in April.

The brochures feature the largest-ever range of holidays in four volumes covering Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean; Europe and The Americas; Asia and Australasia; and the brand-new Dubai and the Emirates.

On offer are flexible, affordable and quality holidays to more than 120 stunning leisure destinations in 39 countries and a choice of more than 1,000 accommodation options.

Ministry of Tourism bags PATA award

New Delhi, (PTI) The Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism today bagged the prestigious Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) grand award in recognition of its “exceptional achievement in a variety of endeavours”.

The winning projects set industry standards for excellence and innovation, serving as “examples for others to follow”, according to an official communique here.

In addition to the 24 Gold Awards, PATA also presents up to four Grand Awards for “best of show” entries in the following broad categories: Environment, Education and Training, Heritage and Culture and Marketing Campaign.

The four “best-of-show” Grand Awards were bagged by the Ministry of Tourism in the marketing campaign category.

The Ministry said winning a PATA Gold Award greatly enhances the winner’s marketing and public relations profile and invariably attracts a lot of positive travel industry media coverage.

The winners will be honoured at a special luncheon during the PATA Travel Mart 2007 in Bali on September.


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Mount View Residencies
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