Renton de Alwis has been recalled to take on the position
of Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.Earlier in 2000/2001 he served a one and
half year term in the same capacity, having being appointed by the two successive
governments. He resigned his position during the first three months of his second
stint, citing inability to operate on a professional basis. During his earlier
tenure he was responsible for several new initiatives in promoting Sri Lanka’s image
abroad, bringing the brand identity of ‘Sri Lanka Tourism’ restructuring the
industry, including managing the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Colombo
International Airport (July 2001) and the impact of September 11 on a scientific
crisis management platform.
Renton, an advisor for eTurboNews representing Sri Lanka, has over 30 years
experience in tourism, business, and communications management and has been involved
in marketing, promotion, conservation, human resource development, crisis management
and information technology issues throughout his professional life. Renton holds a
Master of Science (MS) degree in Resource Economics from the University of Hawaii
and has specialized in Coastal Zone Management as a grantee with the East West
Center (1973/76). He also holds a BA degree with first class honours in Economics.
In 2001, he served as the Tourism Sector Advisor for the Asian Development Bank
(ADB) Project in the SASEC countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal. From
1990-96, Renton served the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) in the capacity of
Vice President- Asia, based in Singapore and was responsible for the work of 18 PATA
member countries in Asia, extending from Japan to Pakistan. He also developed
several pioneering projects for the association such as the PATA Adventure Travel
and Ecotourism Conference and Mart, PATA Asia Chapters Forum, Global Human Resources
Conferences (Bali, Hong Kong and Vancouver), several new training initiatives, the
Mekong Tourism Forum and the first ever PATA Internet Web Initiative in1995.
He also served successful terms as CEO of the National Association of Travel Agents
Singapore (NATAS) (1997/99) at the invitation of the Singapore Tourism Board,
Marketing Strategist for the World Tourism Organisation’s (WTO) Tourism Master Plan
Project of the Yunnan Province of China (2000), Chief Technical Advisor for UNDP on
Nepal’s Partnership for Quality Tourism Project, setting up the Nepal Tourism Board
in 1996/97, Chairman/Facilitator of the Bhutan National Tourism Workshop (SIDA,
2002), International Resource Person at the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)
India Initiative’s Tourism Retreat (2002), Chairman of the PATA Macao, China Task
Force (2002) and as the Director of Research, Marketing and International Affairs of
the Sri Lanka Tourist Board (1982/86). Renton has been awarded the ‘Baskar (Sun)
Award’ by Nepal for an outstanding contribution made to tourism in Nepal in 1997 and
the ‘Hall of Fame’ Award by Pacific Area Travel Writers Association for a life long
contribution to tourism at the ITB, Berlin in 2002.
Renton was a known communicator in the Asian region and has been featured on CNN,
BBC, Asia Business News, CNBC, SBC, Channel News Asia and all the Sri Lankan
Channels in the electronic media and on print media in the Time Magazine, Asia Week,
Asian Wall Street Journal and others in Singapore and Sri Lanka as well. He
currently writes a weekly column in the Sunday Financial Times in Sri Lanka under
the pen name Random Access Memory (RAM).
He served as the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement
of Science during 1982/84. International Resource Person at the World Travel and
Tourism Council (WTTC) India Initiative’s Tourism Retreat (2002), Chairman of the
PATA Macao, China Task Force (2002)He is also a former executive committee members
of the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM), the Four As and Chairman of the
Corporate Affairs Committee of SLIM and Chairman of the Advertising Awards Panel and
Brand Symposium of SLIM. He served as the General Manager of De Alwis Advertising
Company in the mid eighties under the Chairmanship of Dr. Ananda Tissa de Alwis, a
guru in marketing and advertising and former Speaker of Parliament.
Renton is known in the Asian region for his pioneering efforts at introducing IT
applications and ecotourism concepts to the travel community and for forming
effective alliances and partnerships for the tourism industry. He has visited over
60 countries, spoken at over 40 international and regional conferences and events
and has himself, conducted over 500 seminars and workshops.
Since leaving the Tourist Board in 2001, Renton was invited to serve as the
CEO/Secretary General of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (2001/2002) and was later
appointed as Senior Advisor on Communications and Tourism by the Minister of Foreign
Affairs Late Lakshman Kadirgamar in 2004/2005. He also is a founder Director of the
Responsible Tourism Partnership, Sri Lanka, an organization dedicated to promoting
and developing a more interactive and community led tourism for Sri Lanka. He has
also recently set up a social enterprise in tourism called ‘The [email protected]’
which is a restored rural villa operated as an up market tourism facility, the
profits of which support social and community development projects in the area.
Renton has articulated his vision for Sri Lanka at several forums and through
articles in publications he has contributed to. He believes that a ‘Sri Lanka
Incorporated’ approach is needed to develop and promote tourism in Sri Lanka, where
all sectors of the economy must be mobilised to actively participate. He believes
that while a peaceful environment in the country is a strong prerequisite for
healthy development of tourism, tourism by itself to have the ability to contribute
towards achieving lasting peace for Sri Lanka. A strong communicator he considers
himself a team player and a consensus builder, who will assist rational policy
formulation by the political leadership and take on the strategic implementation of
those policies through mobilizing as many stake holders as possible in the process.
He has demonstrated that new approaches and lifestyle type products are needed to
cater to the discerning demand of the ‘new’ up-market generation of visitors who are
more explorers and experience seekers than passive tourists.