Dec. 3, 2012
-- The whale has been described as the ‘king of the sea’, ‘majestic in its beauty’, and made famous in stories such as Jonah and the Whale from the Bible as well as Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The latter oft recognized as a classic of English literature, with Melville himself stating ‘to produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme’. There are few such sights left in this world as majestic as the sight of a pod of whales breaching, the sudden explosion of blows, or even the playful antics of spinner dolphins.
Mirissa in Southern Sri Lanka has now established itself as the world’s top spot for watching the Blue Whale, the largest creature to have inhabited our planet. During the season, Blue Whales can be seen virtually every day at a strike rate of over 95% just a few nautical miles from the shore, which is unprecedented when compared to sightings of these animals in other parts of the world. Sperm Whales too may be seen occasionally in pods numbering as much as 50 individuals, and on a good day you may have views of both Sperm Whales and Blue Whales in the same field of view. Acrobatic Spinner Dolphins may also be seen, sometimes in superpods which can number over a thousand. Other locations in the island famous for sightings include Kalpitiya and Trincomalee.
Whale watching in Mirissa has emerged as one of the biggest and most positive stories for Sri Lanka’s growing tourism industry in recent years, thanks to the efforts of Jetwing. Jetwing Lighthouse, an icon of Galle has been the home of whale watching for over four years, and played a pivotal role in researching, promoting and branding the product to the world since its inception in May 2008. Now, Jetwing Hotels joins SriLankan Airlines and John Keells Group in a drive to boost conservation efforts of the whale, in a programme named Project BLUEprint along with Whale and Dolphin Conservation UK.
Launched at this year’s World Travel Mart, the Project seeks to develop a community-based responsible whale and dolphin watching industry off the coast of Sri Lanka and encourage responsible behaviour amongst local boat tour operators. project BLUEprint aims to raise awareness, provide training and scientific support to the burgeoning industry so that whales can continue to inhabit the waters and a responsible industry can benefit local people. The initial focus of the project will be in Mirissa, in the south west of the island, currently the most popular whale watching destination in Sri Lanka.
Once established, responsible whale watching will be rolled into two less-developed whale watching sites, Trincomalee in the north east and Kalpitiya in the north west, to safeguard the industry before there is any rapid increase of untrained vessel operators or a lack of community leadership which can manage the growing whale watching industry as a result of an expected influx of tourists wanting to see the whales.
“As Jetwing has long been known for championing the safety and continued existence of whales, we are proud to help out in Project BLUEprint. It is an honour for us, and our expertise and knowledge will certainly be an asset to the Project” commented Ishanth Gunewardene, Head of Sales & Marketing for Jetwing Hotels.
Family owned and in the tourism industry for the past 39 years, Jetwing Hotels has surpassed expectation at every aspect. Building on their foundation of being passionate, as well as the experience of true, traditional Sri Lankan hospitality, constantly pioneering discoveries captures the essence of the brand. Such a strong statement and direction have enabled Jetwing Hotels to imagine, create and manage marvels and masterpieces, where distinctive design and elegant comfort complement each other and the environment. Considered a priority, sustainable and responsible practice is implemented through the award winning Jetwing Eternal Earth Programme; with energy efficiency, community upliftment, and education of earth saving measures to schoolchildren being a few tenets of the Programme.