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Author Topic: Sri Lanka hopes wildlife glories will attract new tourists  (Read 10271 times)
mithila
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« on: September 18, 2008, 09:01:23 PM »


AFP Report: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gn-jozp1IuMxvRcnW0Qp61vvD67A

Unless eco-tourism go hand in hand with nature conservation and empowering local communities, the tourists will only be seen "wildlife historic sites" in Sri Lanka.

Report Text
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SIGIRIYA, Sri Lanka (AFP) — With wetlands and jungles teeming with colourful butterflies and exotic primates, Sri Lanka is planning to lure a new type of tourist who prefers wildlife to beach life.

As well as at least five species of primates -- including the purple-faced leaf monkey and the hanuman langur -- the island boasts hundreds of lakes and lush paddy fields for visitors to explore.

Langurs, with their long eyelashes to avoid the glare while feeding on treetops, are believed to be incarnations of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman from whom they get their black markings.

Legend has it that Hanuman burnt his face, hands and feet after he got caught in a fire while rescuing a queen from Sri Lanka's forests.

"Primates have always captured peoples' imagination -- perhaps it is because they look and behave so much like humans," Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, head of Jetwing eco-holidays told AFP, while on the trail of the toque monkey in Sigiriya, 170 kilometres (110 miles) north of Colombo.

"Sri Lanka is very rich in primate species and large numbers of primates can be easily observed," he said.

Sigiriya, a world heritage site and home to a stunning fifth-century rock fortress, is a hotspot for observing langurs and toques.

"The animals look very comfortable with people around them," said Manduka Premaratne, a local visitor, as he watched dozens of monkeys play and groom each other.

Primates can also be found in the nearby historic sites of Polonnaruwa, Kandy, the southern city of Galle and the wetlands around Colombo.

The critically endangered purple-faced leaf monkey can occasionally be spotted in Colombo's suburbs, while the brown saucer-eyed loris lives in the island's Horton Plains national park.

"The loris is rare. Few sightings have been made," said Nalin Perera of the International Conservation Union in Sri Lanka.

Traditionally the loris has been killed for the supposed medicinal properties of its body parts.

Sri Lanka is also a paradise for butterflies, dragonflies, leopards and exotic birds, who are found in abundance in the island's rainforests and jungles, said Chandra Jayawardene, a naturalist at the Hotel Vil Uyana.

Around 243 species of butterflies and 118 species of dragonflies have been discovered so far, Jayawardene said.

Wijeyeratne said the leisure industry was counting on Sri Lanka's natural wonders to bring foreign visitors to the tropical island, adding that "conventional tourism is in trouble".

Sri Lanka's golden beaches, tea plantations and ancient religious sites have long attracted visitors, but numbers have been falling as a nasty civil war drags on.

Arrivals in July dropped 25 percent to 32,982 over the same period in 2007, according to Sri Lanka Tourism, amid a spate of bomb attacks and heavy fighting between troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in the north.

Authorities had forecast 600,000 visitors this year, bringing in 550 million dollars, but figures are falling well short of such projections.

Tourism revenue for the six months to June this year totalled 175 million dollars, according to Sri Lanka's central bank, while the number of visitors from January to July this year was 225,000.

"I don't think we will cross 600,000 this year because of the terrorist problem," Sri Lanka's tourism chief, Renton de Alwis said.

"But we hope that environmental tourism can be a big help to us in the future."
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sriyantha
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2008, 04:55:28 AM »

I like your quote, "Unless eco-tourism go hand in hand with nature conservation and empowering local communities, the tourists will only get to see 'wildlife historic sites' in Sri Lanka.". These days there is so much talk about being green and eco everything so much that some companies are taking advantage of the business opportunities. To combat this GreenPeace has launched the "Stop Greenwashing" campaign. http://www.stopgreenwash.org
I know that Gehan DeSilva Wijeratne (mentioned in the article) and his JetWing Eco group is a true eco-tourist company with dedication to protect the environment. But I have come across many (including my own friends and relatives) who try to take advantage of the business opportunities without thinking about giving back to nature and the local community. We need to educate the tourists, the need to choose the real "eco" companies vs ones that are there just to make money. Maybe certification by a central authority would help.
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mithila
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008, 05:59:19 AM »

Interesting link "greenwash". This is a timely initiative by Greenpeace. To be really "green" companies should be serious about the social responsibility. Many companies just use "Green Consciousness" of people to make more money.

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Man did not weave the web of life. He is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web of life, he does to himself. | Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you!
Priyanjan
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2008, 04:51:17 AM »

For me the only good thing for Sri Lanka in getting more tourists into the country is that there will be more $$$ spent by them. Other than that, there is nothing much that I see in it other than ‘destruction’.

Why I say this is because I believe, if ‘we’ are to attract tourists who actually ‘spend’ their money, we will have to have more facilities & infrastructure at where ever ‘we’ plan to take these tourists to. The worse will be that ‘we’ will be happy to do away with the (what ever little) rules, regulations and laws that we presently have to protect these places just to ‘tolerate’ the money spenders. In my opinion, tourists who really love nature are people who actually know to live on basics, thus, don’t make them big spenders. Now I don’t think that ‘we’ will appreciate tourists of that sort.

What I see is in this report is that there is not a single quote from any of our experts on wildlife. Hence, what I see in it is that none of them have been involved or even consulted on this issue. Typically it’s the Sri Lankan way of doing things.  If you read the report carefully, all the individuals who have been quoted are either government officials or hoteliers who are, I would say desperate to get their rooms filled up with tourists.   

I don’t for a moment believe in the so called ‘Corporate Responsibility’ that they talk of.

If ‘we’ are to go ahead with such a plan, then we do have to have inputs from the experts in the relevant fields. If not the wildlife of the country will be ‘history’ very soon.

Now I like to think as to who is going to visit Sigiriya to see wildlife?

Watch out monkeys, dragon flies, butterflies and all other wildlife, the tourists are coming!!

What I’ve stated might be controversial, but this is what I feel.

Priyanjan.
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