Saturday August 24, 2019

Sri Lanka rewards eco-friendly practices as tourist industry set to grow

By Chanka Jayasinghe

Aug 08, 2019 10:18 AM GMT+0530 | 2 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's tourism industry is promoting good environmental and social practices, by recognizing leaders that follow standards with the industry planning to double arrivals to five million within five years, officials said. 
"Sri Lanka depends on tourism heavily because it is the third biggest revenue generator of the country," Minister of Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said.
"That is why it is of utmost importance that every aspect of the industry operates with the best possible sustainable practices."
He was speaking at the Sustainable Tourism Certification, conducted with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and the United Nations Development Program on August 05.
GSTC is a US-based accreditation body that has developed standards for destinations and tourism operators.
Sri Lanka attracted 2.3 million visitors in 2018. Arrivals are expected to be around 1.9 million to 2.0 million in 2009 following suicide bombings on Easter Sunday.
Randy Durban, chief executive officer GSTC said the adopting better practices will help Sri Lanka draw tourists emerge faster out of a current downturn due to bombing on Easter Sunday.
"This certification gives the discipline that the tourists seek in a destination," Durban said.
Sri Lanka is expecting to draw 5 million visitors and earn 10 billion dollars in revenue within the next five years.
"We have to do this because we cannot borrow future from the younger generation," Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kishu Gomes said.
Heritance Kadalama, of Sri Lanka's Aiken Spence won the platinum award. Gold awards were won by Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle, Heritance Tea Factory, Nuwara Eliya, Anantara Peace Haven in Tangalle and the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya.
Amaratunga said he believed that tourism operators may be responsible for problems with Sri Lanka's coral reefs.
"It is very sad to see the coral reefs in Sri Lanka that are dying," he said. "I strongly believe it is because of the lack of management in some private sector corporations that operates in those areas."
The certification looks at sustainable management, cultural heritage and social welfare. An audit is conducted before the award.
Sri Lanka is planning to draw 5 million tourists in the next five years up from last year's 2.3 million, which will increase the pressure on tourism assets. (Colombo/Aug08/2019)