With half a million visitors a year and many domestic travelers, tourism is a major industry in Sri Lanka. Most tourists in Sri Lanka travel on package tours to the island's beaches, ancient heritage sites and hill country. The income from accommodation, meals and guide services stays with the large companies that book and run the tours. Rural communities see few benefits from the tourist industry, and visitors miss the opportunity to experience some of the best parts of Sri Lanka.
Sewalanka's tourism program has two components:
In areas where tourism is established or shows signs of expanding in the future, we work with community organizations to increase their voice in the future development of their region and their capacity to capture benefits from the tourism sector.
We also help international travelers and urban Sri Lankans coordinate visit and volunteer opportunities in rural communities. These responsible travel programs are focused on mutual exchange, cultural understanding, and creating awareness of village life and grassroots initiatives.
Examples of our tourism support services include:
Facilitating regional and international exchanges for people involved with community tourism and ecotourism to share information, strategies and experiences
Publishing a responsible travel map that highlights community tourism and ecotourism initiatives throughout Sri Lanka. For more information please see www.localternative.com
Supporting the establishment of a national Community Tourism Network for exchange, collective marketing and booking. Participants have developed environmental and social principles and guidelines for network membership and are in the process of launching a website.
Arranging corporate weekend trips that include village homestays, educational tours and demonstrations, recreational activities and volunteer opportunities
Helping rural youth receive training and certification to work as professional cultural and ecotourism guides for their own geographical area.
Helping specific geographical areas improve their tourism services, improve their links with the Sri Lankan Tourism Board and access external resources and services.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about Sewalanka's tourism activities or book a responsible travel experience with one of our community partners.