- Receives PATA Gold Award for Second Careers initiative
By Venessa Anthony
Jetwing Hotels won the Gold Award for its innovative women’s empowerment and inclusive recruitment project titled Second Careers, at the recently concluded Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Awards 2022, taking the coveted award in the “Women Empowerment Initiative” category. Jetwing Hotels Deputy Managing Director Dmitri Cooray accepted the award at the ceremony held in Ras al Khaimah, UAE.
The Morning Brunch reached out to Jetwing Symphony Chairman Hiran Cooray to learn more about the winning project, as well as their future endeavours along the same line. Cooray informed us that the project was initiated in 2021 by Jetwing Hotels to provide an opportunity for women aged 45 and above from economically challenged backgrounds to enter the workforce.
“Women from the localities of Jetwing Hotels’ operations across the island who were eager to enter a professional working environment were provided capacity-building and employment, augmenting their skills in household management through a structured onboarding process,” he told us.
The winning project
Dmitri Cooray, commenting on this award, stated: “To be recognised by PATA, which is an international travel association, and receiving a gold award for this project, gives our team a feeling of encouragement to continue these types of projects.”
With this achievement, Dmitri hopes that their team will be inspired to continue coming up with these novel concepts.
“In the rural areas of Sri Lanka, women don’t have many opportunities to jump into a consistent line of work after a certain age unless they start their own small business,” he told us, explaining that this especially applies to areas such as Tissamaharama.
Speaking about the winning project, Dmitri explained that the project was launched at Jetwing Yala, and continued to Sigiriya, Wellawaya, and more. They operate in two ways, he explained, saying: “One, we employ the ladies and they operate as staff in the linen rooms, housekeeping, and a few other departments. In places such as Wellawaya, we have ladies who started their own businesses at home.”
One such lady has her own grinding mill at home, providing the hotels with spices, while another has hens she rears to provide the hotel with eggs, he said.
“In this way, we open up different opportunities where they can earn an income for themselves. Some of these women are single mothers, so this project has really impacted their life positively,” he added, noting that it was nice to be recognised for this initiative.
Second Careers has thus far proven to be an effective and sustainable solution to the difficulty in attracting female talent to the industry, while ensuring local communities benefit economically from tourism operations.
Hiran Cooray explained that the award was given to Jetwing for creating second careers. “Whenever and wherever possible, Jetwing has been going around the country creating opportunities – especially for women who had to quit work due to factors such as motherhood.”
The mothers they were in contact with now all have children who have grown up and left school.
“We are creating opportunities for these mothers to return to work; either through self-employment or employment at our hotels,” Hiran Cooray added. He also extended his gratitude to Jetwing’s HR team, who came up with this brilliant idea, and for taking the initiative and actually going around the country to see the project through.
Towards a better tomorrow
When talking about similar projects that can be expected from Jetwing in the future, Hiran Cooray stated that Jetwing has always come out with unique ideas and created new concepts.
“Many companies have an eye on us, and they tend to follow what we do. For this too, we are grateful, as this is not about being the best. We want to set an example and create opportunities for all Sri Lankans by working towards a better and more sustainable tomorrow,” he highlighted.
Sharing a glimpse into a soon-to-come project by Jetwing, Hiran Cooray stated that they are hoping to revisit a project that was abandoned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want to promote tourism in the country. It involves the four P’s of tourism – people, planet, profit and promotion – and with most hotels closing due to Covid-19, we were unable to complete this project, but we believe now is the right time to take it up again.”