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‘Making Community Based Tourism Work for Everyone’ The Jetwing Youth Development Project at Jetwing Vil Uyana

‘Making Community Based Tourism Work for Everyone’ The Jetwing Youth Development Project at Jetwing Vil Uyana. With specific reference to Jetwing Vil Uyana, an artificial wetland created by Jetwing in Sigiriya and its role in developing community based tourism Hiran Cooray

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‘Making Community Based Tourism Work for Everyone’ The Jetwing Youth Development Project at Jetwing Vil Uyana

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  1. ‘Making Community Based Tourism Work for Everyone’The Jetwing Youth Development Project at Jetwing Vil Uyana With specific reference to Jetwing Vil Uyana, an artificial wetland created by Jetwing in Sigiriya and its role in developing community based tourism Hiran Cooray Deputy Chairman, Jetwing Hotels

  2. Background Jetwing had over 20 acres of barren land in Sigiriya with building rights. There were also a few acres of paddy land which could not be built on. The site was too far from Sigiriya Rock for the rock to be a feature. The bare landscape was seemingly ordinary.

  3. The Dilemma What could Jetwing do on a seemingly bare land which could make it exciting?

  4. A Wild Idea In 2001 Jetwing announced its plans to become an important player in eco-tourism and set up a specialist subsidiary called Jetwing Eco Holidays (JEH) JEH suggested to Jetwing Hotels to follow the model of conservation agencies such as the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust (WWT) and RSPB to create a wetland reserve. This would be the key focus of the new hotel. The site would be a fusion between a nature reserve and a luxury hotel. An architect’s brief for a ‘wetland nature reserve’ was circulated.

  5. A Multi-disciplinary Team Fortuitously, Jetwing met Sunela Jayawardene who is an environmental architect. The architect brought in consultants and contractors who had done assignments for the Irrigation Department & the Reedbed Conservation Society. The eminent scientist Chris Panabokke was amongst the scientists who studied the site. He thought Jetwing could not have found a better site to create a wetland. Jetwing assembled an in-house team of engineers, landscapists, naturalists etc.

  6. A Wetland From Bare Land to this; Could we change this;

  7. Preliminaries The first 24 months was spent on soil & hydraulic gradient surveys. In parallel 21 permissions were obtained. We had to assess whether a private wetland reserve was feasible. - Was the catchment adequate to offset precipitation and retain water throughout the year? - Would it seasonally dry out completely? - Was this a crazy idea?

  8. Harvesting Water - sensitivity to community We had a golden rule. No water was ever to be taken off the public irrigation network. We had to harvest, from rain, every drop of water we will use. We must never be in competition for utilisation of water with the local farmers. We made a decision not to adversely impact the socio / cultural sensitivity of the area.

  9. Construction The first 9 months of construction was a hydraulic engineering project, which was inspired by ancient traditional irrigation marvels, for which Sri Lanka was known for.

  10. A Wetland Complex Slowly it took shape - A storage reservoir - A show reservoir - A linkage channel - Weirs - Sluice gates - Spills/turn offs Not just a lake in front of a hotel, instead a full fledged wetland complex designed and engineered from scratch. The first hydraulic undertaking of this magnitude by a hotel chain

  11. The Arrival of Wildlife In mid construction, the wildlife began to respond to the creation of the habitat, as against the world phenomenon of loosing wild life, we attracted it. Crocodiles,otters, kingfishers, etc, began to colonise the site with bulldozers still at work. Wildlife adapts to the presence of people

  12. The Arrival of Wildlife Contd. In the USA and Europe there are designated reserves for dragonflies, dazzling hunters of the wetlands.

  13. Moving On… Having taken care of the nature aspect, we turned our focus to the people of the area. Looking after the community is a holistic view and that both are part of a complete spectrum of responsibilities.

  14. Involving The Community There were various aspects that Jetwing had to consider when involving the community; From the inception of the hotel. Capital intensive Had to look at the community involvement model rather than community based as in community ownership

  15. Why Involve The Community? Co-partnership The hotel would help the community in the form of bringing business both direct and indirect. The community would help the hotel by way of cooperation, in every aspect possible. Acceptance Community initiatives included teaching English to the youth in the surrounding areas of Sigiriya and opening routes to employment. The birth of the Jetwing Youth Development Project. Learning Traditional agricultural practices were learnt and practiced.

  16. The Jetwing Youth Development Project (JYDP) Having received the approval of the local priests and their cooperation in getting the students, the project commenced on the 7th of January 2006, with the participation of 120 youth of the area. Objectives of the project were to: • Primarily face the manpower shortage, our hotels and the Hotel Industry of Sri Lanka at large, face. • As a vehicle to involve and pass on some of the benefits of Tourism to the local communities.

  17. JYDP Contd. Objectives of the project continued • To contribute to solve the youth unemployment of Sri Lanka and by doing that contribute in solving youth frustration by providing gainful employment initially at Jetwing Vil Uyana. Background to the type of students • School leavers, rural boys and girls.

  18. The Progression of The Project • Initially the students were taught to read, write and speak English. • Following a Personality Profile Test which was held at the end of two months, students were selected to be trained in four areas of a hotel. Namely; Front Office, Housekeeping, Food & Beverage and Kitchen. • Simultaneously the students were trained in the rich cultural history of Sigiriya and neighboring Dambulla.

  19. The Progression of The Project contd. • They were also introduced to Sri Lanka’s amazing biodiversity. • On Saturday 10th June, a passing out ceremony, conducted by the students was held. • Thereafter, they moved into the hotel for the final months of preparation prior to the opening.

  20. Looking Toward The Future • 50 youth were taken into employment at Jetwing Vil Uyana. • Training and assessment is now conducted periodically on an ongoing basis. • Following the success of this model at Jetwing Vil Uyana, this project will be implemented at other hotels in the rural areas of Sri Lanka.

  21. A new paradigm Hotels can combine the economic benefits of luxury tourism and at the same time be managers of wildlife reserves and be sensitive to communities.

  22. Research As with other hotels, Jetwing will conduct research and provide accommodation to wildlife researchers. They will also be supported with all necessary facilities. Subjects that will be researched include, nature, culture and anthropology.

  23. Community & Environmental Policies Jetwing Hotels are modernising into environmentally responsible hotels which minimise their environmental impact.This includes upgrading waste treatment processes, seeking the co-operation of guests in minimising consumption of water, usage of laundry etc. Documented in Green Directories. Jetwing also has a policy of working closely with local communities so as to contribute to the economy of the community.

  24. Jetwing’s CSR Policy and Programs Jetwing have always believed in involving the local community at every stage of a hotel’s operation. Their policies include areas such as; The ‘Tuk Tuk through the community’, a training program for three wheel drivers in Galle, which won the PATA Gold Award in 2005. Recruitment of people from the neighboring community. Trading with suppliers in the community so as to reduced fuel usage. LINC – A project initiated to bring about a change process for the beach vendors of Beruwela, in order to eradicate a long standing social issue towards tourism.

  25. Thank you There is so much more to do. Jetwing remain committed to being a responsible tourism company and to be a guardian of our environment and be empathic to local communities. Thank you for the invitation to speak.

  26. Credits Story Telling: Hiran Cooray Images: (c) Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne/www.jetwingeco.com Hasantha Lokugamage. Preparation: Angie Samuel

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