impact on hotels
Eco-tourism the answer for Sri Lanka after the tsunami
By Quintus Perera
Eco-tourism is the answer to the present debacle in the Sri Lankan
tourism sector which is on the decline after the December 26 tsunami
disaster, according to an international eco-tourism expert.
Michael E Conroy, Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Scholar Yale
Programme on Forest Certification, Yale University, New York, who
supports the shift to sustainable tourism from a mass market product,
believes globally tourism is rapidly moving away from the mass market
importantly eco-tourism would not be limited to the beach fronts
but is equally possible in the dry zone, near cultural attractions
and even on the edges of the major cities,” he said in an
interview last week at the Ranweli Holiday Village at Waikkal. Dr.
Conroy, member of the Board of the International Eco-tourism Society
(TIES) based in Washington, is in Sri Lanka for a research study
on the eco-tourism potential in Sri Lanka. He said the current trip
is part of a fund raising campaign where TIES organized a Benefit
Auction in which 40 to 50 (overseas) trips were purchased by members
and the proceeds gifted to the organisation. Dr Convoy is based
at Ranweli and travels around particularly to the Cultural Triangle.
is accompanied by his wife Dr Lucille C Atkin, Vice President, International
Programme Director, Margaret Sanger Centre International, New York.
As the exercise is a fund raising campaign for TIES the couple has
paid US $ 1,800 for the trip. He also works on forestry and analyses
the impact on the society for another International Organization
called Forest Stewardship Council an international NGO passed in
Germany for the last 10 years.
Sri Lankan tourism, Dr Conroy said that the government has mostly
invested in support of Mass Market Tourism (MMT), which consists
of huge concrete structures using a massive amount of glass and
steel to bring tourists from around the world for a narrow experience.
Many countries and World Bank have shown that this kind of tourism
has a very low positive impact on development. MMT often benefited
the foreign investors as construction of these buildings involved
material to be imported.
said that it is sad to note that some hotels even import their requirements
of food or part thereof. He said that even the service provided
in MMT has a very high import component and from an economic perspective
that kind of tourism has very little developmental impact. It has
also been found that these MMT hotels are built on highly environmental
sensitive locations and effect high damage to the environment even
while they are being constructed. Eco-tourism is normally built
adhering to the norms and principles which utilize local and sustainable
material and in turn protect the local environment during the construction
phase and after.
said, "You build your tourist resort with the appreciation
and preserving the environmental values of the people around the
area and also serving the aspirations of the tourists.”
facilities are often less expensive to build in terms of foreign
exchange and also tend to provide greater developmental impact upon
the local community. "I am convinced that the traveling population
in the industrialized countries would be happy to taste eco-tourism
and already India and China looking for it positively," Dr
Conroy said adding that he found that eco-tourism here could be
applied extensively as Sri Lanka is a small island with its natural
and cultural wealth distributed in a small, geographical area. That
also makes it relatively easy for a visitor to obtain a very complex
holiday experience in a short period of time.
said that Ranweli has meticulously worked on preserving its natural
environment by even protecting a section of its land that’s
untouched virgin scrub jungle with the original mangrove plantation
and where there are many kinds of birds.