Alumnus promoting sustainable tourism practices in Sri Lanka
Posted: 13 August 2021
Australia Awards alumnus Indika Gamage has recently been appointed Head of the expanding Jetwing’s Cultural Triangle Hotels group, which currently includes Jetwing Lake in Dambulla and Jetwing Vil Uyana in Sigiriyain in the north-central area of Sri Lanka.
Indika began his career at Jetwing as a Sales & Reservations Executive in 2006. Through his dedication and high performance, he steadily advanced up the ranks, and was appointed General Manager of Jetwing Lake in 2016.
In 2020, Indika participated in an Australia Awards Short Course on Sustainable Tourism Development administered by Griffith University. The Short Course involved travelling to North Queensland to observe and learn from the sustainable tourism practices of Australian tourism operators. Indika took advantage of this opportunity to build strong industry relationships that are now benefiting him at Jetwing.
Upon returning to Sri Lanka after attending the Short Course, Indika developed his proposed sustainable tourism idea over the course of four months. Drawing on his Australian learning, he extended Jetwing’s business model to incorporate a local community engagement program facilitating economic and social benefits. On the strength of his pitch presentation to the Jetwing group and the supporting evidence he provided, Indika’s project was approved.
“The experience and knowledge I gained from academics and industry experts on the Short Course have been a driving force for me in my professional career,” reflects Indika “I am proud to be making a difference through promoting sustainable tourism in my homeland under the Jetwing brand”.
Indika is now applying the knowledge he gained to drive sustainable development at Jetwing’s Cultural Triangle hotels. The strategic plans he has implemented at Jetwing —engagement with the local communities, career development opportunities for staff, and programs on environmental sustainability—have resulted in a significant shift in the reactions from stakeholders.
In addition, Indika is also involved in designing a range of innovative programs to increase long-term sustainable tourism practices at the community level. One such example involves establishing a local supply chain for the hotels, creating a win/win situation for both Jetwing and for the community.
Through his additional role as Vice President of the Cultural Triangle Hoteliers Association, Indika has attended many community development programs, where he has been able to share the knowledge he gained in Australia. He has created employment opportunities in the tourism industry through establishing youth career development programs and collaborating with the Vocational Training Authority.
In September 2020, Indika—together with four other Australia Awards alumni who attended the Short Course on Sustainable Tourism Development with him—secured a small grant from Australia Awards – Sri Lanka. The grant supported recovery initiatives connected to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s project focused on the development of a digital learning platform to support tourism stakeholders in Sri Lanka to economically recover from the pandemic.
“I am thankful for the opportunities I received through Australia Awards and am honoured to be an Australia Awards alumni,” Indika says.
He believes that he is now more equipped with knowledge and experience to inspire change in the tourism and hospitality industry in Sri Lanka.