By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Sri Lanka could emerge as a leading wellness tourism destination for young Japanese professionals, with enthusiasm for Ayurveda and mindfulness tours in Sri Lanka growing among employers in the land of the rising sun.
“I have been reading about wellness and mindfulness written by Sri Lankan Buddhist monks, and I’m looking at introducing these practices to our company,” DeNA Co. Ltd. Health Management Advisor Takayuki Hirai said.
Hirai, who is also the President of the government-funded and supported Wellness City Consortium in Tokyo’s major business and entertainment ward of Shibuya, said that he is looking at introducing trips to Sri Lanka for DeNA and the companies which are members of the Shibuya Wellness City Consortium.
He became interested in Sri Lanka after he learned that several of the employees in DeNA had separately visited Sri Lanka for Ayurveda and mindfulness training.
DeNA, which is an e-commerce and video game developer, has an average employee age of 34, and so far, older employees have been more interested in travelling for health and mindfulness purposes to Sri Lanka.
Since it is hard to persuade young IT professionals to take paid leave and travel or to engage in healthy lifestyle choices, the employer is taking the initiative.
“We interviewed some of the people as to why they did not take paid leave and the first reason is that they say they are busy so they cannot take paid leave, and secondly they don’t have anything to do even if they are given free time. So if there are very good tour contents in a location, they may want to go. I may be able to persuade them to visit that location,” Hirai said.
However, a week-long tour of Sri Lanka must be able to educate the young Japanese professionals on the need for healthy practices and mindfulness, he said.
“It’s impossible to make people healthy within that period, so within that tour they should have some information and triggers to change their behaviour, like food culture, meditation and ayurvedic practices. So people have to get some insights from the wellness tour,” he said.
Surveys conducted prior to and after a tour to Sri Lanka could ascertain the effectiveness of the initiative, along with key performance indicators at the workplace, he added.
Hirai had attempted a pilot project last year to Hawaii, but the high cost, coupled with little time for employees to decide on whether to participate, given the haste with which it was planned, had resulted in a failure.
However, since many Japanese are now becoming more aware of wellness tourism, the initiative to Sri Lanka may become successful, he said.
Hirai, who is a regular contributor to Forbes Japan, said that the Sri Lankan initiative could also be promoted through the popular business magazine.
Sri Lankan tour companies are already wooing Hirai, but the interest for wellness and mindfulness tours is generally growing in Japan, he said. The Japanese government has been promoting healthy living and mindfulness practices among employers, since Japan is an ageing population, with high stress and suicide rates, although they have been declining of late due to interventions by the government and employers.
DeNA has been awarded the ‘White 500’ status by the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The award recognizes 500 listed companies which have top healthcare management practices.
DeNA, which posted 32.2 billion Yen in net profits and a revenue of 143.8 billion Yen for the 2017 financial year is an associate company of global video game giant Nintendo, with the latter owning a 10 percent stake in DeNA.
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