Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is heavily reliant on the country’s many natural blessings including our lush tropical jungles, lakes and rivers as well as our incredibly rich biodiversity. Small islands are usually not home to large mammals, however Sri Lanka is an exception. Our “Big Five” (Elephant, Leopard, Bear, Sperm Whale and Blue Whale) has earned Sri Lanka the title of ‘Best for Big Game Safaris’ outside of Africa.
Nature-based tourist attractions bring in substantial revenue for local and national economies and contribute heavily to national employment. As an example, ‘The Gathering’ of Minneriya named “One of the Wildlife Wonders of the World” by Lonely Planet, was estimated to be worth well over ~ LKR 4 billion (~USD 22 million) in 2018, in tourism benefits to the country.
The entry fees alone from Sri Lanka’s wildlife parks, zoological and botanical gardens and conservation forests amounted to 27.5% of the total revenue earned from tourism in 2018. Despite the significant contribution to Sri Lanka’s economy, our natural world faces many challenges and receives next to no attention from the tourism industry for its conservation. In this 2-part series, the Tourism Alliance will explore wildlife and nature conservation as it applies to the future sustainability of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.