How to be a sustainable traveler in Sri Lanka

Are you confused between sustainable travel, eco tourism, green travel and responsible travel? Well, don’t be. All these terms are used interchangeable and mean the same thing – the idea of being more conscious of how we travel, while minimizing negative impacts on the environment, and positively impacting local communities and economies.

What is sustainable travel?

Finding a solution to travel while maintaining long-term tourism without causing harm to the natural environments is known as sustainable travel in Sri Lanka. Sustainable tourism should manage resources in a way where a traveler’s economic, social and aesthetic needs are met while at the same time, maintaining Sri Lanka’s cultural integrity, ecological process, biological diversity and life support system.

In other words, to be a sustainable traveler in Sri Lanka, you must be more aware of pollution levels caused by travel, how that will affect the environment, and how your tourism needs will affect the local people and native cultures.

Three Principles/Pillars of Sustainability

  1. Environmental Pillar – travelling must reduce negative impacts on environment and wildlife.
  2. Social Pillar – travelling must positively benefit local people and communities.
  3. Economic Pillar – travelling should positively contribute to the local economy.

Things to consider when travelling sustainably

  • Figure out the most sustainable form of transportation to get to Sri Lanka. Direct flights and economy class are greener than transit routes and business class seats.
  • If using private transport when in Sri Lanka, travel with a group to minimize environmental impact.
  • Travel slow – spend more time at each beach, wildlife, hill country, trekking, and historical destinations in Sri Lanka.
  • Eco lodges and eco-friendly hotels are an ideal accommodation option and are available in many parts of the island. Gal Oya National Park is a great place to visit as a sustainable travel option with eco friendly accommodation available just there.
  • Do not go for all-inclusive packages of holidays in Sri Lanka. Instead, go out to local restaurants and help the local economy.
  • Camping and glamping encourages sustainable travel in Sri Lanka.
  • Choose tour operators with green accreditations such as Blue Lanka Tours to plan your holiday in Sri Lanka.
  • Choose responsible wildlife tourism that does not disturb animals in their natural habitat. During whale watching tour offerings for example, stay quiet and try to ride away from the pool of blue whales.
  • Snorkel and scuba dive responsibly – go with smaller groups and avoid treading close to the coral reefs.
  • Volunteer with NGO and community tourism projects in Sri Lanka to learn about local life and practices.
  • As much as possible, eat in restaurants and cafes that are owned by locals. Avoid international fast-food chains because these don’t help the local economy.
  • Local street food vendors serve some of the most authentic Sri Lankan dishes so don’t be afraid to try those.
  • If you need to purchase groceries, go for locally produced items rather than imported ones.
  • Buy souvenirs that are unique to the country and made by Sri Lankan artisans.
  • Pack light because heavy luggage leads to more fuel consumption for an aircraft, resulting in more carbon emissions. Reusable bottles, bags, and boxes and an eco-friendly toiletries kit is essential.

If you’ve been researching sustainable travel, you’ve certainly heard about Jazzmine Raine? She created the website Sunshine & Raine and is one popular lady who is genuinely keen on helping the planet, with her heart fallen deep into the sustainable and ethical movement. When travelling sustainably, Jazzmine Raine quotes “Be smart. Regardless of the destination, there are dangers and dangerous people. Never put yourself in a setting where you think something could potentially put you in a dangerous situation”. She goes on to advice to always be aware of your surroundings, learn the local language, make friends with local women and men, plan your routes ahead, and stay in large cities until you are comfortable to venture by yourself into smaller rural areas.

How can you encourage sustainable travel?

In addition to travelers, airlines, local governments, business owners and host countries on the whole are responsible for a sustainable tourism model. Many of these entities want to encourage sustainable travel but are concerned about how travelers might feel about restrictions and how it may negatively impact mass tourism. As a sustainable traveler, you must speak up and let businesses know that there is a good market for sustainable tourism that is keen on knowing sustainability initiatives in terms of Sri Lankan tourism.

It also helps to share your travel experiences with friends, family and anyone you meet, particularly on social media. The more you talk about your sustainable travel, the more people will be interested in it.

What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?

Sustainable tourism benefits Sri Lanka in the following ways:

  • Supports local communities
  • Allows wildlife to be in wild
  • Allows travelers to make conscious choices
  • Keeps the environment clean
  • Eating local saves a lot of emissions, thereby creating a lower ecological impact.

The Sri Lankan tourism industry is massive, and creates circular economies through supply chains and local employment that reduces the gap between income levels in rural and urban parts of the country. Blue Lanka Tours encourage sustainable travelers to understand the diverse cultures between the north and south of Sri Lanka, creating community interactions away from the common tourism trail. As a result, sustainable tourism creates a deeper understanding of the lives of different ethnicities and religions.

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Dinesh N Perera
CEO

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