Published on : Thursday, December 13, 2018
Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Director General Upali Ratnayake said, “Next year we are planning to implement a sustainable tourism certificate scheme for the country with the UNDP.”
Speaking at the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards 2018, Ratnayake said that the certification will incentivize local businesses to improve sustainability standards.
Ratnayake further said, “You have to bear in mind that we are responsible for utilizing our own resource base. The environment, the culture, heritage and society is our essence of tourism.”
The new hotel star grading system launched in 2016 considers some sustainability aspects; however, analysts warn that it is not enough, and that the star grading system is being ignored by modern travelers who value peer reviews on the internet.
Many hotels have been accused of using up ground water, depriving the resource for local communities. Others have been found to dump untreated sewage and solid waste into rivers, lakes and ocean. Accommodation units have also been built ignoring environmental standards.
In spite of that, some local businesses have won international recognition for sustainable practices.
After the end of a civil war in 2009, tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have grown a compounded 18.25 percent annually from 2010 to 2017, reaching 2.1 million visitors.
This has given rise to concerns about how many tourists Sri Lanka can accommodate for a year, given its environment, culture, and economic and technological constraints.
Popular attractions like the heritage site Sigiriya and the national park Yala are over visited.
Globally, overtourism is becoming an issue among popular destinations, with Bali facing a water crisis and residents in Barcelona, Paris and Venice growing more resentful towards tourists.