Sustainable Tourism in Sri Lanka: Initiatives and Ecotourism Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

2022 April updated

Sustainable Tourism in Sri Lanka

As Sri Lanka tries to safeguard the environment, Sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka is an exception. It is one way to ensure the preservation of the tourist attraction places for now and the future.

Touring the world and meeting people from all walks of life is an important element of our global culture. It allows us to discover new places and cultures while learning about new traditions and activities. As a result of the numerous benefits it provides to travelers and communities, it is widely seen as a positive influence.

The tourism industry, on the other hand, is changing. Our awareness of the threat posed by climate change and our involvement in intensifying it is growing stronger with each year that passes. Our worldwide community is considering how we might reduce our negative influence on the environment across all businesses and sectors.

This is where the sustainable tourism concept is important, and the Sri Lanka government has taken this seriously, as we shall see on this page. Here we will explore what sustainable tourism is all about, the measures undertaken by the Sri Lanka government towards realizing this goal and ecotourism Tourism places to visit in Sri Lanka.



01

What is Sustainable Tourism?

As we dive into how Sri Lanka is adopting measures towards sustainable tourism, it is important first to understand what sustainable tourism is all about.

Sustainable tourism refers to tourism that generates more advantages than negative consequences, particularly in terms of the environment, the economy, and local communities, among other things. Tourism that is truly sustainable and responsible should improve the quality of life in the areas where people live and visit.

Offering hospitality and leisure services in a way that protects not just the environment but also local economies and societies is what sustainable tourism is all about, according to the World Tourism Organization.

All too frequently, when swarms of tourists descend on a region, the implications for the local communities are catastrophic. This happens as a result of either carelessness or the inherent nature of the sector.
Sustainable tourism guarantees that tourist sites preserve their natural charm and that all living things, including trees and animals and humans, are not harmed while also allowing tourists to enjoy and experience the place.

Sustainable tourism necessitates an investment of time, effort, and money. However, if done right, it is unquestionably worthwhile. Unorganized "green" projects are implemented in many places with no discernible results.

In recent years, however, legitimate, sustainable tourism initiatives have improved the appeal of many destinations, and more and more sophisticated travelers are becoming conscious of their environmental footprints.

Not every location must be environmentally friendly or promote ecotourism. Sustainable tourism can be practiced in a variety of ways in any destination.

02

The Pillars of Sustainable Tourism

There are three pillars of sustainable tourism; environmental sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. Environmental sustainability is all about protecting the environment. Environmental sustainability is achieved through initiatives such as waste reduction, the elimination of single-use plastics, and the reduction of the overall carbon footprint.

The protection of natural environments such as woods and waterways and the preservation of artificial environmental artifacts such as historic structures, architecture, and artworks are essential for the survival of humanity.

Social sustainability is a little more difficult to describe than environmental sustainability. Still, at its core, it is the concept of conducting your business in the best interests of your employees, stakeholders, partners, and the communities in which you conduct your business.

Economic sustainability is based on financial profitability, but this should not come at the expense of the other two pillars of sustainability (environmental and social). While it's obvious that a company's profitability is essential to its long-term viability, the pursuit of profit must never come at the expense of environmental or social issues.

Sustainable Tourism in Sri Lanka

Sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka is a long-term goal. For Sri Lanka to achieve a positive overall balance in environmental, sociocultural, economic, and experiential consequences for tourists and residents, sustainable tourism must be promoted throughout the country.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority considers sustainability to be a critical driver in preserving and conserving the island's outstanding natural and cultural heritage to ensure that the destination remains a popular tourist destination for Sri Lankans and visitors now and in the future. SLTDA has mandated the authority to construct sustainable destinations, which the organization has given top priority.

Although the COVID-19 global pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global travel and tourism business, it has also presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset the sector's priorities.

Sri Lanka Tourism has taken advantage of this opportunity. It is charting a new environmentally-friendly path forward for the sector to navigate the future in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Sustainable tourism is essential for preserving natural, cultural, and environmental resources, all of which are vital to the long-term viability of Sri Lanka's tourism sector. If these important resources are not conserved, Sri Lanka may see a decrease in the number of tourists visiting the country.

Sustainable tourism is somewhat more to be requested by tourists in the future, particularly following the conclusion of COVID-19, and the National Sustainable Tourism Certification (NSTC) program has been established to address this demand.

In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace, it is essential that we adapt to the demands of tourists. Sustainable tourism is no longer an option; instead, it is required.

Sri Lanka is a small island that is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Its tourism product is strongly reliant on natural resources, making it critical to develop the business sustainably.

Sustainable Tourism Practices in Sri Lanka

In supporting sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka has taken several steps. The first step undertaken towards achieving sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka is that Sri Lanka became a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

The move is meant to show the willingness and strengthen their position towards achieving the long term goal of sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka. Other initiatives are also underway, such as the plans to develop Sigiriya as the first Sustainable Destination. The draft is already drafted and will be shared with the Central Cultural Fund (CCF).

Furthermore, due to the high degree of biodiversity in the Yala Palatupana Tourism Zone, it is planned to be raised to the status of a Protected Conservancy Area. In addition, new criteria are being developed to ensure that new tourism projects meet sustainability standards, such as those requiring renewable energy, recycling, and zero single-use plastic.

When it comes to achieving sustainability targets in the future, boutique hotels that are presently in business will need to set a deadline to meet. Sri Lanka Tourism has taken steps to meet the aims of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

MEPA (Marine Environment Protection Authority) collaborates with Sri Lanka Tourism to protect the marine environment to ensure a healthy coastal and ocean environment for future generations. This collaboration has been put on hold due to the disaster involving the X-Press Pearl ship.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, tourism accounted for at least 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, making it an urgent requirement. As Millennial and Generation Z tourists become more concerned about their carbon footprint, they look for more environmentally-friendly destinations. In the three years between 2015 and 2020, the TUI Group reported an 84 per cent increase in the number of clients who chose "greener and fairer" vacation packages. The TUI Group is the world's largest leisure, travel, and tourism company, operating its travel agencies, hotels, airlines, retail shops, and cruise ships.

As global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution threaten the future of travel, Sri Lanka Tourism has been thinking about how local challenges might be managed to protect the global sector.

Authorities realize that encouraging sustainable tourism is critical to increasing the destination's competitiveness and positively positioning Sri Lanka as a tourism destination of choice for visitors.

Ecotourism Tourism in Sri Lanka

In order to maintain the health of Sri Lanka's natural biodiversity, environmentally friendly tourism is essential. It should not be overlooked that the country has lost a significant part of its natural habitats over the last fifty years.

Tourism in Sri Lanka has expanded at an astounding rate over this period, with visitor numbers annually well into the millions. It is no coincidence. Yet, as is often the case, economic expansion has resulted in environmental degradation.

Nevertheless, another trend is underway: ecotourism has expanded "globally three times faster than the tourism industry as a whole" since 2004, according to the World Ecotourism Organization.

In addition, as fate would have it, the island is home to an abundance of protected natural and cultural monuments, including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, twenty-six national parks, and a large number of protected wildlife reserves.

Many ecotourism locations can be found within these protected regions, buried deep within the forest or high in the skies. Ecotourism in Sri Lanka is a significant trend in Sri Lanka because most people would like to enjoy the surroundings in the most natural way possible; for example, they want to swim in pristine waters or go through unknown terrain.

Many rainforests are included on the list of ecotourism destinations to visit. Aside from beautiful beaches, little islands are also well-known among tourists. In terms of wildlife, camping at night and getting a closer look at animals are the most important aspects of the experience.

Hiking, mountain climbing, canoeing, and kayaking are examples of ecotourism activities that provide the greatest possible exposure to nature while requiring the least infrastructure.

When traveling, there are several restrictions to obey. For example, littering is strictly prohibited, as is vandalizing any property or feeding wild animals. In addition, the rainforests are kept as close to their natural state as is humanly possible. When visiting Sri Lanka, ecotourism is the next best thing to do because it allows you to be as close to nature as you possibly can.

03

Top Ecotourism Destinations in Sri Lanka

When it comes to tourism, Sri Lanka ranks high on the list, and a rising section of the economy is devoting itself to ecotourism. Ecotourism is the practice of traveling to distant, frequently threatened settings to support conservation efforts and learn about the local history and culture.

Like every other country on the planet, Sri Lanka is confronted with significant challenges related to climate change and biodiversity loss. As a result, ecotourism, a significant component of one of the country's largest industries, is extremely valuable in the fight to conserve biodiversity.

Due to the significant increase in interest in the environmental movement in Sri Lanka, ecotourism attractions are springing up all across the island. So, if you want to come to this beautiful island, learn about its true culture from people who live it daily, and do so while also caring for the environment, look no further than this destination.

The following are some examples of must-see ecotourism destinations in Sri Lanka and how they benefit the earth and its inhabitants.

Rainforest Ecolodge

Forest Ecolodge is located in the Sinharaja Rainforest in the country's south, close to the border with India. This ecolodge, located on the outskirts of the Sinharaja UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is an excellent example of how ecotourism destinations are planned and constructed with the environment in mind from the beginning.

The entire experience of being here is designed to put you right in the center of the rainforest, surrounded by the lively trees that surround you and immerse you in nature.

Twenty chalets constructed from recycled shipping containers were raised above the ground of a forest clearing in 2012, giving you a 360-degree view of the verdant canopy while allowing the plant and animal life below to continue to flourish.

Every inch of this ecolodge, which has been finished and decorated entirely with natural materials, has been created to enhance the beauty of the forest and make nature the property's main attraction.

You can spend your days trekking through the forest floor to the cascading waterfalls and listening to the sweet birdsong rising from the treetops while enjoying locally sourced meals in the restaurant that opens out to the mountain range – true alfresco dining – and spending your nights in the lodge.

Gal Oya Lodge

This ecolodge is located within the namesake national park, a pristine and serene haven in Sri Lanka's south-eastern region. A wonderful blend of nature and luxury has been created by the designers behind it, resulting in a unique experience out in the wilderness.

The most remarkable aspect of the lodge is the relationship with the Vedda indigenous community in the surrounding area. They are believed to be Sri Lanka's first human settlers and have long been threatened by various factors, including private property acquisition and government forest reserve limits. The country's civil strife has also threatened the Vedda people.

However, the personnel at Gal Oya Lodge collaborates with the community to educate guests about indigenous culture, and the Vedda chief leads tours into the jungle to demonstrate how his tribe is spiritually connected to nature and relies on the soil for its livelihood.

For more than 2,000 years, the area of Gal Oya National Park has been kept and safeguarded, and while wandering along the woodland paths that flank the lake, you can see wild elephants swimming between the islands that dot the water's surface.

By staying at the Gal Oya Lodge, learning about their conservation projects, and meeting members of the Vedda community, you can contribute to the effort to preserve Sri Lanka's only remaining patch of really pristine wildlife.

Flameback Ecolodge

The Flameback Ecolodge, located on the banks of the Weerawila Lake, offers seven secluded tents that seamlessly blend elegance and comfort with the great outdoors — glamping has never looked so wonderful.

Ecotourism differs from the rest of the tourism business in that it encourages visitors to establish roots in their local communities and form meaningful connections with their surroundings. This is a key characteristic of what distinguishes ecotourism from the rest of the industry.

Rural poverty, which is a systemic problem in Sri Lanka, has been reduced by ecotourism, and the Flameback Mountains are a perfect illustration of how ecotourism can aid in the fight against it.

The lodge collaborates with local individuals to provide guests with authentic experiences featured on their website, from going on fishing trips with Sunil to learning palmyrah weaving from artisan craftswoman Disna to going on treks with Kalana, the lodge's in-house ranger, to providing guests with authentic experiences.

The lodge also maintains a relationship with local farmers, purchasing directly from them, and visitors are even invited to dine at their houses for dinner. But, probably most crucially, every employee of Flameback Ecolodge earns a decent living wage, contributing to the advancement of social mobility in the surrounding community.

When you stay at Flameback, you will experience connection in every sense of the word: connection with yourself, the environment, culture, and the community that lives and breathes it.

Dream Cliff Mountain Resort

Dream Cliff Mountain Resort is high in the sky, close to the famed Horton Plains National Park. Perched high on a mountaintop and surrounded by lush greenery as far as the eye can view. It is a small resort but offers peace and tranquility to all who visit.

As seen by few tourists in Sri Lanka, and when the country is dealing with the many difficult effects of climate change, Dream Cliff is an example of a natural, preserved ecosystem that is becoming increasingly valuable in the fight to conserve Sri Lankan biodiversity.

Dream Cliff is a natural, preserved ecosystem that is becoming increasingly valuable in the fight to conserve Sri Lankan biodiversity.

Extending to the horizon, the hillsides are alive with the sounds of wild animals and the cries of adventurers seeking adventure. Developing your environmental and cultural knowledge of the local area while on vacation is another important aspect of ecotourism. A stay at Dream Cliff will help you develop these awareness skills.

Take in the peacefulness that runs from the swaying grasses lining the sloping hills to the pillowy clouds that drift past your bedroom window as you sleep above the clouds. Watch the sunrise over the mountaintops as you rest above the clouds.

As you participate in the many activities on offer, you will be able to witness firsthand the true beauty of Sri Lanka. Spend your days hiking to waterfalls where you can take a refreshing bath in the free-falling water, mountain biking across the hilltops and down to the villages, and viewing the wildlife that exists and thrives throughout the area.

Environmentally conscious places, such as Dream Cliff Mountain Resort which exists in harmony with nature rather than in opposition to it, has the potential to serve as models for the tourism industry's necessary transition to an ecotourism model.