COLOMBO (EconomyNext) –Sri Lanka’s tourism authority is considering ways to better control the flow of visitors to tourist attractions to ensure their carrying capacity is not harmed by increasing numbers of domestic and foreign travellers.
“Carrying capacity at our tourist sites is important. We have to look at how to control capacities in future,” said Paddy Withane, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism development Authority.
“The numbers of visitors are increasing – there’s more travel in the country with the growing middle class,” he said at the launch of an online interactive Geotourism MapGuide by National Geographic Society in partnership with International Finance Corporation.
Withane said the authorities were aware of increasing numbers at popular sites like the Sigiriya rock fortress, Yala national park and offshore whale watching areas.
Studies have to be done to see how the flow of visitors could be better controlled without inconveniencing them, he told EconomyNext.com.
One measure the authorities could consider was spreading out the flow of visitors over a longer period of the day by encouraging evening or night-time visits with proper illumination at tourist and pilgrimage sites like Anuradhapura.
Private sector players in the tourism sector have called for restrictions on numbers of visitors to certain sites to ensure their sustainability.
Harry Jayawardena, chairman of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, has said the island’s natural resources in particular are in danger due to lack of policies, regulation and controls.
Overcrowding at national parks has not only become an eyesore but also a threat to the sustainability of wildlife, he said.
Jayawardena said he hopes that the authorities would introduce “strict regulations and implement a visitor quota” for the long term sustainability of the island’s natural resources, as well as the tourism industry.