Never since the beginning of Selective Asia have we felt so physically far from our teams on the ground; life during the pandemic is moving at a different pace for all of us, and we’ve been curious to find out what everyone’s experiences have been like. During this series, we’ll share stories of resilience, innovation and day-to-day life straight from our friends in Asia. Today's story comes to us from James, our partner in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
"After 10 long months since its’ airports were shutdown, Sri Lanka has finally opened her doors for tourists on the 21st of January 2021. This has been taking place under a bubble concept, with approximately 100 hotels categorised as Level 1 dedicated for the sole purpose of tourist accommodation for the first 14 nights in Sri Lanka. There are also several sites made available for tourist visits in these 14 days with dedicated time slots for tourists, ensuring that they do not come in to contact with the general public for health and safety reasons.
While the front liners are working hard to curtail the spread of the virus, we are somewhat free to go about with our day to day life with face masks and social distancing being mandatory precautions one must take. All businesses are required to adhere to the safety protocols including having a contact tracing QR code at the entrance to their premises.
Ajit, our Managing Director, has always been an avid gardener. He truly believes in a greener environment and our office garden is the best example. Reforesting lands in the hill country was also one of his ideas which we were beginning to implement with land being purchased in rural outskirts of Kandy. The plan was to arrange for a half-day tour for the clients from their hotel in Kandy to one of these plots where they can plant a tree which will be looked after and the client would be updated on its growth periodically. After COVID-19 hit Sri Lanka in March 2020 and there was no tourists to look after, he explored the idea of converting these land plots to commercial agriculture lands by planting spices, which would then create jobs for the locals as well as those who are employed in the tourism industry. Thus a new venture under the name of “INSEL” was born. INSEL provided job opportunities to chauffeur guides and drivers who were jobless since March 2020 as the Sales Force to sell the spices that were grown in these fields to the local market. His family also enjoys spending their time in these fields and continue to accompany Ajit on his adventures to find new areas to cultivate.
Furthermore, Ajit also had a long standing interest in the mechanics of motor vehicles, a childhood passion if you will. As our small fleet of vehicles grew over the last decade, he always had a very strict maintenance practice to make sure they were performing at their best when taking clients. With that interest he recently started a small venture called ‘CarFix Express’ bringing yet another one of his passion to life as a business.
While we are all waiting for tourism to resume and do what we are most passionate about, some of the above projects have helped some of our team keep busy and occupied. When tourism does pick up Ajit hopes to bring our regular team back to office and get a more dedicated team involved for these projects."