The First Sustainable Tourism Awards

Sustainability crucial if tourism is to be number one FX earner in Sri Lanka.

The first National Sustainable Tourism Certificates (NSTC) were awarded at a ceremony in Colombo on 5 August. Held at Ape Gama, 37 hotels were awarded in recognition of their sustainability efforts.

The grand winner of the night, receiving a platinum award was Heritance Kandalama in Dambulla.

Speaking at the event, Kishu Gomes, Chairman SL Tourism, gave an impassioned speech highlighting the importance of Sri Lanka becoming more sustainable. “Sustainability cannot be a standalone activity as it has been in the past,” he said, adding “we cannot borrow from the younger generations, therefore it is time we take the right decisions on our sustainability journey.”

Plastic-bottles-waste-trash-sustainabilityGomes estimated that Sri Lanka tourism could increase to 5 million tourist arrivals in four to five years. However he cautioned “we do this right or not at all, meaning we grow tourism in a sustainable manner, or not at all.”

The NSTC were launched in line with the action 95 of the Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020. At present they have been launched for the accommodation sector, with plans to extend to all tourism suppliers in future.

See below for a list of the award winners.

The awards were established in partnership with the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) of UNDP and have the dual aim to make Sri Lanka’s tourism businesses more competitive locally and internationally, and to build the country’s reputation as a sustainable tourism destination.

The criteria for the awards were set by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC). Randy Durband, CEO of GSTC congratulated the efforts Sri Lankan hotels had made so far but emphasized that this is only the beginning of the journey.

This sentiment was shared by Tharuka Dissanayake, Policy and Design Specialist at UNDP. Dissanayake highlighted the finance gap for conservation in Sri Lanka and suggested new accommodation projects could commit 5% of their capital to sustainability. The industry has to look at ways that it can strengthen its resilience to the challenges of climate change, she said, floods, droughts and power shortages are already occurring.

Sustainable tourism a priority

Upali Rathnayake, Director General of SLTDA, described the many benefits of sustainable practices, not only to the environment, but to the country financially. At the moment tourism is the third largest FX earner in the country, but with the top two diminishing, “tourism can take the responsibility of the national need”.

As an industry, tourism has a heavy environmental impact, from energy consumption to resource use. We need to maximize the benefit to the country while protecting the resources and minimizing waste Rathnayake explained. “These awards are a journey towards the future.” This year, as it was pilot program, typically 65% of the GTSC criteria were met, next year the aim is for 80% Rathnayake said.

Sustainability-in-hotels-logoSpeaking at the ceremony, Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife & Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga welcomed the international agencies and their expertise, “we are a developing country, I am not ashamed to say it. We find it difficult sometimes to find resources, so whatever assistance from international agencies is very welcome.”

“If we are to be dependent on tourism, we must be more mindful and follow instructions from international agencies” he added.

You can find out more about sustainability in Sri Lanka in our in-depth article from May, here.

The award winners

Platinum Winner: 

Heritance Kandalama

Special Award Winners:

  • Heritance Tea Factory Nuwara Eliya
  • Jetwing Lighthouse
  • Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle
  • Heritance Kandalama

Gold Award Winners

  • Jetwing Lighthouse
  • Heritance Tea Factory Nuwara Eliya
  • The Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya
  • Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle

Silver Award Winners

  • Cinnamon Wild Yala
  • Jetwing Yala
  • Barberyn Beach Ayurveda Weligama
  • Cinnamon Lodge Habarana
  • Habarana Village by Cinnamon
  • Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon
  • Cinnamon Citadel Kandy

Bronze Award Winners:

  • Jetwing Beach
  • Negombo, Goldi Sands Hotel
  • Negombo, Heritance Ahungalla
  • Taj Bentota Resort & Spa
  • Shangri la, Hambantota
  • Aliya Resort & Spa
  • The Hilton
  • Amaya Hills, Kandy
  • Jetwing Blue
  • Eden Resort & Spa
  • Hotel Blackpool
  • Jetwing Sea
  • The Fortress
  • Hotel Movenpick
  • Heritance Ayurveda Maha Gedara
  • Cinnamon Bay
  • Trinco Blu by Cinnamon
  • Jetwing Vil Uyana
  • Jetwing Lake

Certificate of Participation:

  • Paradise Beach
  • Vila Safari Weerawila
  • Hotel Sapphire