Left to right: Sajeewa Ranasinghe, Assistant Manager, Sustainability Assurance & Advisory Services, SFG; Kanishka Jayasinghe, Head of Operations, New Business, Client Services & MarComm, CCC; Sanith de Silva Wijeyeratne, CEO, CCC; Keerthi Ekanayake Manager, Walkers Tours; Tom Popple, Senior Manager, Climate Change and Sustainability at Natural Capital; Nalaka Amaratunga, VP/CEO, JKH; Mario Oorloff AVP, Walkers Tours; Vindya Cooray AVP, Walkers Tours; Thisara Perera Manager, Walkers Tours; Yudesh Gunaratne AM, Walkers Tours.
The country’s most popular Destination Management Company (DMC), Walkers Tours Limited, recently celebrated their sixth consecutive year of carbon neutrality. A part of Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate John Keells Holdings (JKH), the company has been successfully maintaining Asia’s only CarbonNeutral® certified vehicle fleet.
The certificate was handed over by Tom Popple, Senior Manager of Climate Change and Sustainability at Natural Capital Partners in the UK, commented on the occasion “Walkers Tours continues to excel in climate action and fly the flag for responsible tourism in Sri Lanka. With the growth of tourist numbers across the world, CarbonNeutral® champions are needed more than ever. Certifying to The CarbonNeutral Protocol provides globally recognised assurance of this action and leadership.”
As per previous years, Walkers Tours went through a rigorous audit process, assessing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of their vehicle fleet operations and negating its carbon footprint through investing in the Ratnapura and Kandy Small Hydropower Project – a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) registered credit-generating project, to obtain the requisite amount of Carbon Credits. The assessment was conducted by The Carbon Consulting Company (CCC), who has directed Walkers Tours for more than six years in managing and mitigating their emissions to achieve notable reductions, and a verification audit was then performed by The Sustainable Future Group (SFG) – regional partner of Natural Capital Partners – to certify Walkers Tours’ fleet as CarbonNeutral®.
Nalaka Amaratunga, Vice President and CEO of the Destination Management Sector at JKH, commented on the company’s commitment to sustainability, “The global fight against climate change is an integral part of our business operation and we believe that we have a duty to act in the best long-term interests of all our stakeholders. Our firm commitment is to reduce the Carbon Footprint and we will also continue to focus on our triple bottom line to invest in a better future.”
“Sri Lanka has an important role to play when it comes to tourism and protecting the environment. As a long-standing champion for sustainability, Walkers Tours leads the industry by engaging their stakeholders at every level. Whilst certain other local companies may have claimed carbon neutrality, our research has shown that they have not followed proper, accepted procedures in making those claims, up to and including investing in non-registered, non-verified projects for Carbon Credits through third parties who are only interested in making a quick buck. Having obtained their credits from Natural Capital Partners, whose thorough vetting process only allows validated, registered and verified projects to be listed on their registry, Walkers Tours’ can confidently declare their carbon neutral status at any international forum. We are proud to work with such an inspirational client changing the face of the hospitality and tourism industry in this country, and we look forward to the next six years and beyond with Walkers Tours in helping manage their environmental sustainability.” remarked Sanith de S. Wijeyeratne, CEO of CCC.
Already equipped with ISO 9001 & 14001 certifications, Walkers Tours is a member of the ‘Responsible Tourism Partnership Sri Lanka’ initiative, and was the recipient of the 2017 Chairman's Award for Sustainability in the Office-Based Services Category at JKH. The company was further named the best performing ‘TourCert Check’ certified business, and their sustainability efforts range from free medical clinics for their drivers/chauffeurs to new product development focusing on less-developed parts of the country.