ECONOMYNEXT- A Sri Lanka-World Bank joint study on how many tourists Sri Lanka can handle sustainably requires funding approval from the cabinet, a top official said.
"We're about halfway through the project," Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Director General Upali Ratnayake said.
"We need a loan to complete the other half," he said.
"We are waiting for cabinet approval for the loan."
He said the study examines both tourism flows and infrastructure in Sri Lanka.
This will determine the tourist-carrying capacity of the country.
The SLTDA had earlier said that the study would break down carrying capacity for each tourism region in Sri Lanka as well.
Tourism-carrying capacity determines how many tourists a country could handle sustainably, without causing undue stress to the tourists, residents, and environment.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization in 2018 warned against overtourism.
Sri Lanka's government has been chasing ever-increasing tourist arrivals with little knowledge on the country's carrying capacity.
With the endorsement of the popular tour publisher Lonely Planet and new promotion campaigns, Sri Lanka is aiming for 3 million arrivals in 2019, up from 2.3 million in 2018.
Already there is pushback against overtourism in the national park Yala, the heritage site Sigiriya, and whale watching.
Due to the country's current account deficit, the state is depending on tourism to bring greater foreign exchange to avert constant balance of payment crises.
Investment in technology and development of infrastructure could change the carrying capacity of a country.
So could the development of tourist attractions and zones in regions which are traditionally not tourist hot spots.
This would reduce the burden placed on main tourism zones.
Another tool now being used by policy planners in other countries is setting limits on acceptable change in tourism hot spots.
Tourism zones which exceed sustainable capacity and limits of acceptable change have become hostile towards tourists.
Residents in European destinations such as Barcelona, Venice and Amsterdam are protesting against tourism.
In Asia, Bali now has a garbage and water crisis.
Thailand has outlawed tourists from visiting the world-famous Maya Bay due to unsustainable tourism.
The Philippines is now restricting tourists from visiting the famous Boracay island.
The Philippine government had found the isle's carrying capacity was 6,405 tourists, compared to around 19,000 tourists visiting the island earlier. (Colombo/Feb12/2019-SB)