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International Centre for Responsible Tourism Sri Lanka


Welcome to the International Centre for Responsible Tourism Sri Lanka

The ICRT was established in 2002 by Professor Harold Goodwin as part of the legacy of the 1st International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations and the Cape Town Declaration of 2002. Building on and updating the Cape Town Declaration, the 2022 Responsible Tourism Charter was signed on Magna Carta Island on November 6th 2022 explaining why we take responsibility for the things we choose to improve through tourism and the impacts of our efforts.

ICRT Sri Lanka is proud to be part of the ICRT network to develop and consolidate Responsible Tourism in Sri Lanka. Formally known as Ceylon in the Indian Ocean, it is a small island destination (65,610 square kilometers) in South Asia, needing Responsible Tourism more than ever now, to safeguard the unique natural and cultural heritage.

Tourism is the world’s largest industry, despite many challenges and downturns experienced in the recent past, international tourism will continue to grow at a steady pace. While we benefit from this phenomenon, Sri Lanka will face more pressures and demands on its environment and culture.

Responsible Tourism in Sri Lanka
A special destination for our visitors and us to live in…. for generations to come

Tourism can make a big difference in Sri Lanka. It can help protect the natural environment, traditions and culture- all the things that make our destination special for visitors. Tourism can help improve the well-being of our people and spread benefits to those who need it most. There is an opportunity for all of us to harness the power of tourism for good and improve the lives of the local communities, protecting our natural resources and heritage. This is what our future tourism depends on.

Our aims are…

  • Help develop practical, responsible tourism solutions to protect and enhance Sri Lanka as a responsible tourist destination;
  • co-ordinate and manage the delivery of responsible tourism and related projects with the objective of contributing towards the economic, environmental and social well-being of Sri Lankans and our guests;
  • promote Sri Lanka as a highly valued, responsible tourism destination for visitors.

Towards achieving our aims ………

The ICRT Sri Lanka endorses the concept of Responsible Tourism as defined in the Cape Town Declaration and the 2022 Responsible Tourism Charter to ensure that all our activities are consistent with the spirit of the
Declaration. We actively support;

> Campaigning: to promote the practice of Responsible Tourism, whether by promoting the ideas or demonstration projects.
> South-South exchange: one of the core objectives of the international network of ICRTs is to encourage and facilitate South-South exchange and to enable Responsible Tourism academics and practitioners to further the development of Responsible Tourism through the exchange of experience, knowledge and skills.
> Advocacy: to run conferences and workshops and disseminate information about the principles and practice of Responsible Tourism through print and other media.
> Research: to undertake research on the practice of Responsible Tourism to create knowledge about the impacts of Responsible Tourism strategies and to determine which approaches are most successful in achieving the objectives of Responsible Tourism.
> Training: to provide training on Responsible Tourism and undergraduate, postgraduate and professional levels, both independently and in association with the ICRT

Towards achieving our aims, the ICTR Sri Lanka also….

> prioritises issues affecting the future sustainability of Sri Lanka tourism and implements programmes or activities to address these issues,
> engages in projects to help communities enhance their livelihoods and generate resources for environmental conservation
> supports tools and activities directed towards long-term sustainable tourism priorities,
> disseminates information on tools and best practice guidelines for the tourism industry stakeholders and visitors on responsible tourism

Play your part
We call on the tourism industry, others directly and indirectly involved in Sri Lanka Tourism, especially our visitors to actively participate in responsible tourism, so that Sri Lanka will be a very special destination in the years to come. Practical and simple actions by all of us can make a world of difference to make holiday experience a deeper and a better one.
The need for responsible tourism is not a passing trend, tourism industry and consumers everywhere are becoming more and more aware of sustainable issues. Responsible tourism has been internationally recognised and accepted as a way of doing business. ICRT Sri Lanka, using the wealth of expertise available within the ICRT network and creating destination-specific tools, will help drive change by educating and creating awareness of responsible behaviour within the travel and tourism industry, local communities and
the visitors.

Sri Lanka Responsible Tourism Examples

Greening Sri Lanka Hotels Energy Optimization and Natural Resources Sustainability

Learning Involving and Nurturing Community LINC to address harassment to tourist 

Trees for Life biodiversity conservation

Dickwella Handmade Lace & Crafts Centre

Responsible Tourism Guide for Tourists

Greening Sri Lanka Hotels
Energy Optimization and Natural Resources Sustainability
Hotel facilities globally are ranked among the top five in terms of energy consumption in the commercial/service building sector. It has been estimated that hotels' environmental impacts can be directly related to excessive consumption of resources creating unnecessary operational costs.

Among commercial and institutional sectors in Sri Lanka, hospitality ranks as one of the most energy-intensive with a corresponding high energy costs. Reducing energy costs while continuing to meet the diverse needs of the customers is a challenge. Hotels are highly unique from other buildings and from each other. However, it has been proved that operational costs of the hotels can be substantially brought down through simple and practical actions without additional investments.

The Sri Lanka Hospitality sector uses 4% of the national electricity demand, approximately two weeks of national demand. 50% of this demand is for air conditioning, out of which 20% could be easily reduced, creating substantial cost savings for the hotels. The Greening Sri Lanka Hotels framework was a direct cooperation among the Ministry of Tourism, Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, Responsible Tourism Partnership and the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka. These agencies, in a collaborative effort, worked to implement a national hotel sector energy, water & waste management programme, encouraging other best practices such as renewable energy technologies as an initiative responding to climate change and related reasons such as global and local energy crisis situation; escalating operational costs of hotels and consumer needs in the tourist-generating markets.

Greening Sri Lanka Hotels was implemented at various levels in over 40 hotels, initially without any investments by simply educating the staff and engaging the guests to save energy, water and reduce waste. In the next phase, the hotels finetuned equipment or introduced newer technologies and then moved into alternate energy options such as biomass, solar, hydro and wind power. A destination-specific formula to calculate carbon footprint was introduced with annual reduction targets of Energy - 10 per cent, Water - 10 per cent, and Waste - 20 per cent.

A few hotels in Sri Lanka have done considerable work in the area of energy and other natural resources conservation and some of these efforts have been recognized and commended as international best practices. However, as there are a large number of hotels that can use this knowledge and adopt better management practices, the Greening of Sri Lanka Hotels project reached these hotels.

Energy & water efficiency and other resource manangement not only improved the participating hotels’performance, but also reduced greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change helping Sri Lanka to position itself as a sustainable and a more responsible destination in the minds of the consumer as well as the trade in the tourist generating markets.

Learning Involving and Nurturing Community LINC to minimise harassment to tourists

LINC was created to bridge between the local community and tourists, changing the conceptions (or misconceptions) of both in relation to the other and to give the local beach community an opportunity to make a living by providing goods and services to tourists in a way that both tourists and the local community will be happy with the interaction from the first meeting to the conclusion. Longer term objective was to help give those who want employment (as opposed to self-employment) further skills and training to obtain formal employment (some of the beach community are highly skilled already: in language and social skills). One of the most complex and complicated projects created was implemented very successfully to address the the highest prioritised issue at the time affecting the future sustainability of tourism in Sri Lanka.

Beach boys have been frequenting the coastal belts, particularly in the South, for many years. Being a part of the local community, they depend on tourism for providing guiding, tours or products, and are often seen as ‘harassing’ tourists making the visitors uncomfortable. The Beach Boys do not get any formal training, some are school dropouts and have minimum qualifications. In this pioneering effort, the project converted
thousands of the ‘Beach Boys’ to ‘Beach Operators’ in the Beruwela and Bentota coast improving their skills in communications, customer services and other aspects such as grooming putting a stop to harassment to tourists.

Trees for Life

"Trees for Life” conservation project had local community livelihood and children education in biodiversity linked objectives in addition to reforesting a valuable Hiyare Rian Forest and providing food trees for local communities affected by the tsunami. Hundreds of thousands of school children underwent education and awareness through indigenous tree planting to reforest and also panting food, medicinal or trees economic
value like Ceylon Cinnamon in forest buffer zone villages. These children also took the message to their schools and families to be more environmentally conscious, first activities they undertook successfully was an enjoyable entry in to conservation through the creation of butterfly gardens in their rural schools. Community nurseries, mostly operated by women, provided the plants, and visiting tourists donated funds to help buy the plants. Trees planted have grown to be over massive 20 feet in height in the Hiyare Rain Forest in Galle.

Dikwella Lace &  Crafts Centre - A Helping hand for local crafts

The poorest of the poor women from Dickwella coastal villages improved their skills as bobbin lace makers. A new centre replaced the tsunami-devastated lace centres offering training to the younger generation of women to learn the age-old craft of exquisite handmade lace. The Dickwella Lace Centre was set up to help revive traditional lace-making, support local craftswomen and create new livelihood opportunities for poor
communities. Attractions included: traditional lace-making demonstrations; a museum documenting the history of lace-making in the region, retail centre – range of products including tablecloths, toys, and other small gift items; facilities- restrooms and parking. This project successfully demonstrated that younger generations of women are keen to learn and make traditional crafts making their livelihood as long as it brings them adequate
economic returns.

Responsible Tourism Guide for Tourists

Destinations striving to achieve sustainable tourism introduce destination-specific guidelines for their industry and visitors to create awareness with a view to educating them on responsible tourism behaviour. This is a very powerful tool in influencing and driving change.

The key objective of the booklet is to create awareness and educate the travellers on responsible behaviour while visiting Sri Lanka, a powerful tool in influencing to drive change towards responsible tourism in the destination. The aim was to create maximum benefits and minimum negative impacts for the visitor, the destination and its people. In return, this attempt contributes to enhancing the enjoyment and experience of a traveller. The information on Sri Lankan lifestyles and social and cultural practices are featured in a manner which is attractive and interesting, leading to help shape visitor’s behaviour to provide a higher level of sensitivity.

Contact us

Charmarie Maelge – ICRT Director Sri Lanka
Telephone +94 77 3251088  E Mail

© 2024 The Responsible Tourism Partnership 
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