Sri Lanka Tourism pursues green initiatives

A four-year project to support the reduction of water, waste and energy-usage in one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations has reached its half-way milestone.

Building on a pilot project delivered in 2008, Greening Sri Lanka Hotels is a European Commission-funded initiative which aims to help 350 hotels in Sri Lanka reduce their water and energy consumption and waste production.

The project is led by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce with the Travel Foundation, the Responsible Tourism Partnership Sri Lanka, the Institute of Environmental Professionals of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority as partners.

By providing training materials, workshops and ongoing expert support and advice, the project aims to help hoteliers reduce their water and energy consumption, making significant cost savings and helping to conserve natural resources.

Srilal Miththapala, project director, believes the project will help businesses meet increasing demands for sustainable accreditation from tour operators offering holidays to Sri Lanka.

He said: “Like many sectors, the travel industry is recognising the value of offering a sustainable product. The Greening Sri Lanka project is a real win-win, helping hotels not only to save money, but to protect the environment in which they operate and demonstrate to contractors their long-term commitment to sustainable tourism.”

Since the end of the 30-year civil war in 2009, the country has seen tourist numbers grow. According to Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka is soon set to welcome 1 million visitors per year, with more than 750,000 having already visited the country so far in 2011 compared to 654,476 during the whole of last year.

Sue Hurdle, chief executive of the Travel Foundation, said: “Following so many years of unrest, it”s heartening to see new-found prosperity in Sri Lanka with hotels filling up and new opportunities being created for local businesses. However, as with any fast-growing destination, a careful balance must be struck to preserve what makes Sri Lanka so special for the people who live there and for future generations of visitors.”

“It is hoped this project will help Sri Lankan hoteliers to reduce their impact on the environment and dependence on costly and finite resources, in so doing, demonstrating the country’s commitment to sustainable tourism.”

To date, 139 hotels have signed up to the project and nearly 70 walk-through audits have been conducted in hotels. The local delivery team is planning to engage further hotels through participation in local events and workshops during 2012, as well as highlighting success stories through a communications campaign.

One hotel involved in the project, Heritance Tea factory in Nuwara Eliya, found that replacing roofing sheets with transparent alternatives on its housekeeping department, obtaining increased sunlight to aid drying of linens, has reduced energy use by almost 1,400kWh, while removing bathroom heaters saved another 41,040kWh of energy, producing a first year cost saving of almost Rs. 400,000 (£2,250) – more than 10 times the average monthly household income in Sri Lanka

For more information on the Greening Sri Lanka project, visit: http://www.greeningsrilankahotels.org

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