What does culture mean to you? Culture is a broad concept, and ultimately means something different to each of us travellers. For me, I think the culture of a destination is defined by its people. After all, it is people who design, build and then preserve monuments of historic and religious significance. It is people who pass down traditional recipes, customs and folklore through the generations – and share these with visitors fortunate enough to journey into their homelands. It is people who create artworks of such innovation and beauty that inspire travellers hundreds of years later to travel from afar to view them. It is people who speak the languages and diverse dialects of the globe, keeping them alive throughout the ages.
Recent events have seen a number of global destinations in the news, reckoning with tragedies wrought by humans on their home soils. It’s true too that people can be incredibly destructive. In the face of unimaginable suffering, it’s people who rally together and unite.
A couple of weeks after the recent Sri Lanka Easter attacks, I attended a lunch with Resplendent Ceylon, a Relais & Chateaux group of properties in Sri Lanka. Resplendent Ceylon is the leisure arm owned and operated by the founders of Dilmah Tea.
“For me, the most heartening factor for tourism is how all religions have come together,” said managing director, Malik Fernando. “We’ve seen such an outpouring of love from Australia.”
Sri Lanka was voted the number one destination to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet. It has been heartening to see more than 50 separate Sri Lankan hospitality and tourism operators join together to form the Sri Lanka Tourism Alliance to promote their beautiful country once more to international visitors, especially considering that travel and tourism supports one in ten Sri Lankan families (read more on page 19).
In this issue, we encourage you to lose yourself in our pages and hopefully learn more about cultural experiences that await within some of the world’s most alluring destinations. V&T and our team of skilled contributing writers has brought to life the streets and ancient palaces of Hyderabad in southern India; the meditative stillness in Japan’s Mt Koya; the spiritual significance of Central Australia’s Uluru; the lavish mezquita of Cordoba in Spain; the cobblestones and castles of Europe; the gastronomic explosion in Macao; the mountains and tribes of Peru’s Sacred Valley along the Lares Trail; the ski fields of Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant; the colour and life of La Paz, Bolivia; the UNESCO-preserved Hoi An in Vietnam; and sustainable operators working to preserve South Africa’s wildlife.
As the saying goes, travel is the only thing you can spend your money on that makes you richer. We hope you find something within our pages that encourages you to take the first step towards your next unforgettable and culturally enriching experience.
Katrina Holden, Editor