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Lifetime Achievement Award 2008
Chandra de Silva, Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree 2008
The recipient of the first TIES Lifetime Achievement Award is Chandra de Silva, Founder of the Ranweli Holiday Village (Sri Lanka) and a long-time Board member, supporter and friend of TIES. A pioneering entrepreneur and inspirational leader, Chandra's dedication to ecotourism, conservation and sustainable community development have touched numerous lives in Sri Lanka and beyond.
Landmarks & Legacies
Chandra was a well known environmentalist and advocate of sustainable community based ecotourism in Sri Lanka, and dear friend of TIES. Among many legacies that Chandra's lifetime achievements have left for TIES is our new tradition of planting trees in honor of the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Chandra used tree planting as an opportunity to share an experience and to commemorate a special occasion, and invited many guests (including TIES Board members in 2004) to join him in planting trees at Ranweli.
Chandra (right) and TIES Board members (November 2004, Sri Lanka)
In commemoration of Chandra's receiving the first TIES Lifetime Achievement Award, TIES is supporting the Trees for Life Programme by Responsible Tourism Partnership (RTP) Sri Lanka. The RTP Sri Lanka team has generously agreed to plant indigenous trees in memory of Chandra, with 100% of TIES memorial donation. In addition, TIES has become a member of American Forests. TIES' membership contribution and memorial donation to American Forests will plant 25 trees in honor of Chandra.
Ecotourism Community Remembers
Kelly Bricker, Chiar, TIES Board of Directors
"Chandra de Silva was not only a very supportive member of the TIES Board of Directors, he was a friend to all of us and will be dearly missed. Chandra always brought a fresh perspective to our board meetings from Sri Lanka, he traveled great distances from his homeland to help TIES carry out its mission. I know I speak for all of us who have served TIES in a range of roles, Chandra was a delight to work with, and inspired us all in our work towards a more sustainable world. We all will mourn his passing, and remember his meaningful contributions to not only TIES, but his community and country. On behalf of the present, past, and future members of TIES, we honor Chandra and his life's work."
Tony Charters, TIES Board member, Principal, Tony Charters & Associates
"The world of ecotourism has lost a great leader with the passing of Chandra de Silva, founder of the Ranweli Holiday Village, Sri Lanka, and a fellow director of TIES. Chandra was also a great friend. The Ranweli Resort was a pioneering ecotourism venture, and it led the way to integrating environmental, cultural and social values. Chandra promoted the concept and spearheaded its implementation, in the face of much skepticism, and achieved great results. When the tsunami struck in 2005, Chandra's immediate response was to rush to the assistance of his village neighbours and help them rebuild their houses and schools, although his own property was seriously damaged in the tsunami. That was so typical of Chandra's character. He had a great sense of community. He was also very active in the Child Protection Society of Ceylon, having served the society for 42 years. The ecotourism industry has lost an inspirational pioneer."
Megan Epler Wood, principal, Epler Wood International
"Chandra was a unique person who championed ecotourism as a tool for sustainable development for Sri Lanka for many years. I first met Chandra when he attended my ecotourism workshop at the George Washington Unviversity when I was president of The International Ecotourism Society. When he spoke with me frequently about coming to Sri Lanka I thought he may not have been serious, but I soon learned that Chandra had a way of achieving every goal he set out for himself. My reception in Sri Lanka was overwhelmingly warm, and I became very enamored of the nation. Chandra was tireless. He was a true leader. He was an inspired visionary. He was also a good friend. I got to know his wife and daughter well. Many paintings and photos in my home are from Sri Lanka because of his family's influence upon me. I will be forever grateful to him."
Chandra was Director and CEO of Ranweli Holiday Village (Waikkal, Sri Lanka), Founder and President of the Ecotourism Society of Sri Lanka and a long-time Board member of TIES. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society (FRGS), UK in recognition of his contribution to sustainable tourism, and was a member of the National Geographic Society Panel of Experts on sustainable Tourism and Destination Stewardship.
In the ECOCLUB interview, published in October 2002, Chandra expressed his passion for ecotourism and conservation, and described the natural and cultural beauty of Sri Lanka that offers much potential for ecotourism.
"Buddhist traditions are fully compatible with ecotourism as conservation and love for all forms of life is the core of Buddhist philosophy. Sri Lanka has the first sanctuary in the World - 250 B.C. - Mihintale. The oldest historically documented tree - Ficus Religiosa - a branch of the original tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment was brought to Sri Lanka over 2000 years ago by Sangamitta daughter of Emperor Asoka of India who started the order for Buddhist nuns."
Chandra played a crucial role in transforming Ranweli, which was a largely beach-based tourism facility, into an award winning Ecolodge. Ranweli received the Highly Commended award by the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards in 2003. Ranweli Holiday Village also received the ECOCLUB Ecolodge Award in 2004.
"As an international Ecotourism Consultant and environmental architect, I have been impressed with the Ranweli Resort. Your orientation to ecotourism activities, including bird watching, is a very appropriate one. I loved the boardwalk, the river, birding tour (with excellent guide Mahinda) and the environmentally-friendly approach to many of your facilities." - Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, Ecotourism Consultant, Architect, Mexico
Chandra has been invited as a keynote speaker to present on ecotourism and sustainable tourism at several international conferences and seminars in Asia, Europe, Australia and UK. In July 2007, he was invited as a guest lecturer to deliver a presentation for Post Graduate Students in Sustainable Tourism Management at Fachhochschule Eberswalde (University of Applied Sciences) in Berlin, Germany.
Chandra contributed to the publication: "Protecting Paradise: Certification Programs for Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism" (TIES, 2001), providing details of ISO 14001 in Sri Lanka.