VISION, MISSION AND GOALS OF SRI LANKA ECOTOURISM FOUNDATION 1998-2012
"To make Sri Lanka one of the most sought after ecotourism destination in the world and to built a professional ecotourism network, which serves as a model for ecotourism in the Asia and pacific Regions"
"Ecotourism in Sri Lanka to be used as a tool to conserve the environment, to assure maximum economic benefits to the host community, preserve age-old cultural heritage, provide in-depth information about Sri Lanka and to satisfy the needs of both national and international Ecotourists visiting genuine eco sites in the island"
"Focus of Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation is the social and 'economic development of rural communities in Sri Lanka, through Community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBEs). From its inception, SLEF has worked hard to introduce and implement poverty alleviation programs through ecotourism. To realize this objective, SLEF provides support services and motivates local communities to participate in Community Based Ecotourism and environmental conservation projects. The Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) focuses in reducing poverty in the tourism generating areas of Sri Lanka, contribute to economic growth, increase employment, and promote the conservation of the natural, cultural heritage sites. The specific objective of SLEF is to promote sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka and position the same as one of the best ecotourism destination in the South Asia through infrastructure improvements, community and private sector participation, and regional cooperation. The SLEF is trying hard to improve infrastructure to promote ecotourism, promote pro-poor, community-based sustainable tourism in rural areas, and strengthen of regional cooperation. SLEF believes ecotourism could mitigate environmental degradation, develop human resources, and promote cooperation between private and public sectors in Sri Lanka"
"The long term goals of Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) are
• To place Sri Lanka as an outstanding destination on the world ecotourism map
• To trigger the transition of Sri Lanka's tourism industry from the traditional "sun, sea and sand" based mass tourism to nature based tourism, with an emphasis on ecotourism
• To play a pivotal role in facilitating ecological preservation and community benefits, by educating communities, tour operators and ecotourists to contribute to the preservation of biodiversity."
SRILANKA ECOTOURISM FOUNDATION
Sri Lanka Ecotourism foundation (SLEF) is the pioneer national ecotourism organization, dedicated to promote ecotourism in Sri Lanka and to build a strong and professional Ecotourism Network in the Asia-Pacific Region. During past year the SLEF has done its best to promote ecotourism in Sri Lanka and Asia-Pacific Region adhering to the noble ideals and principles of Ecotourism.
ADVOCACY, ACHIEVEMENTS, ACTIVITES
• SLEF from its inception has lobbied for formulation of National Policies, Regulations, Guidelines, Strategic Development and Action Plans in Ecotourism in Sri Lanka. The SLEF was an active contributor in many steering committees and forums appointed by the Sri Lanka Tourism in view of formulating of Ecotourism Policies which finally became a reality in 2003
• SLEF strongly believes Ecotourism education and related research programmes is the most important
field as far as future development of ecotourism is concerned. Education of tourism industry operators, their customers
and the wider community is an essential, but often overlooked component of sustainable tourism. In the race to develop
new tourism products and services in natural areas, it is often the marketing infrastructure and management that receives
priority and the development of research and educational programmes are an after-thought. The potential to use the vastly
expanding knowledge that we have with regard to natural and human system in the educational programmes for ecotourism is
not only important, but essential to long term sustainability. Any attempt to implement sustainable practices that do not
incorporate educational programmes will be self-defeating.
With a view to achieve the above objectives, SLEF established, First ever Data Base on Research and Training for Ecotourism in Sri Lanka and south Asian Region (RETSA) in 2003 and Asia-Pacific Center for Ecotourism Researches and Training (APCERT) in 2009
• SLEF is conducting regular advance training programmes on Ecotourism Interpretation for the National Tourist Guide Lecturers, Chuffer Guide Lecturers, Students in Universities and other higher educational institutes and Community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBE) activists in collaboration with Sri Lank Tourist Board, Public/private sector and other local and international non-profit non-governmental organizations
• SLEF pioneered to promote and popularize the concept of Community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBEs) in Sri Lanka to assure socioeconomic and socio-cultural benefits to the communities through tourism and there by to alleviate poverty
• SLEF initiated and supported to establish many CBEs through out Sri Lanka in collaboration with other like minded organizations
• SLEF established a National Network in Community Based Ecotourism in Sri Lanka
• SLEF founded Sri Lanka Eco tours (SLET) as a 'model Travel Agency', a first of its kind in Sri Lanka with a view to fund the community development programmes initiated by the Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation and other like minded community tourism organizations. SLET is the only commercial tourism travel agent in Sri Lanka that supports directly to sustain community base ecotourism projects in Sri Lanka.
• SLEF initiated a foster Parents Programmer (FPP) with the generous financial assistance offered by the international friends and well-wishers of SLEF and Sri Lanka Eco Tours. Under this Programme, SLEF has identified 28(twenty eight) school-going children living in a poverty-stricken fishing village at Dodanduwa, in the south-coast of Sri Lanka, that was severely affected by tsunami in 2004. for two years, these children have been provided with financial support on monthly basis by way of scholarships and other assistance such as stationery, uniforms, sports goods, occasional recreation programmes, and complete package of Computer raining etc.
• SLEF requested the Minister of tourism and the Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to support community based ecotourism as a tool to alleviate poverty in Sri Lana. In response, the Ministry of Tourism has set up an Advisory Panel to Promote Community Based Ecotourism in Sri Lanka. SLEF in the Coordinator of this panel.
SLEF initiated Community Based Tourism Programs in association with Ministry of Tourism and other International Donor Organizations
Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation is happy to be the pioneers of initiating Community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBEs) in
Sri Lanka and leading the way forward. Community Based Tourism is a widely discussed subject in the tourism circles at present. In other words,
tourism could be used as a tool to assure socioeconomic and socio cultural benefits to the communities in tourism generation rural areas in Sri Lanka.
In realizing the above objectives, SLEF has initiated many Community Based Ecotourism Projects in different parts of rural areas of
Sri Lanka. Some of them are directly initiated and support by the SLEF itself and some CBEs are working hand in hand with SLEF. As a
principle SLEF supports any sort of Community Based Ecotourism Project established by National or International Organizations, such as
Sarvodaya Tourism nitiatves, Sewa Lanka Foundation, Sri Lanka Australia Natural Resources Management Project (SLANRMP), Forest Department ,
ICEI-Institute Cooperation Economic Interminable, Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust, Rainforest Rescue International (RRI) etc.
In recognizing the bales of community Based Tourism (CBT), the Ministry of Tourism Sri Lanka has appointed and advisory Panel recently to develop community based tourism. Palitha Gurusinghe, President, SLEF, has been appointed as Member and coordinator to the panel. The main objective of this panel is to ensure unified and inclusive approach to dcelop and sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka tourism is accordingly committed to promote community based tourism that trickiest down to the benefits to the communities and look in to the matters, such as how best in Sri Lanka Tourism could get the support of the community based tourism organizations and stakeholders in Sri Lanka.
Ecotourism should use as a tool to alleviate poverty in the tourism generating areas, to strengthening the institutional capacity of the community and in the process to motivate the local communities to be involved in the complete tourism development process, from the planning stage to the complete tourism development process, form the planning stage to the implementation and management, through avenge of consultation and partnership. He also emphasized that community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBEs) are the base to develop genuine ecotourism fabric in a county. Because poor communities often see ecotourism as one of the few livelihoods open to them. Communities, whose members are living in poverty invariably, find their young people migrate to urban centers, because of the decline in traditional industries such as agriculture and fishing. Ecotourism can prevent this 'Urban Drift' and provide an essential alternative income.
National and International Partners of Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation
During past years, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation has closely been working with many national and international organizations to promote ecotourism in Sri Lanka. At home the SLEF is working closely with Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Sri Lanka Tourism Promortion Bureau the national statutory bodies for he development of commericial tourism in Sri Lanka, Ministy of tourism, Ministy of Enviornment and natural Resources, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Sri Lanka Australia Natural Resource Management Project (SLANRMP), The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Sewalanka Foundation, Institute Cooperation Economical International (ICEI) Sri Lanka, FK Network and many other like minded organizations in the private and public sector. Other international partners working very closely with SLEF are Malaysian Ecotourism Society, Laos National Tourism Administration ( LNTA) Japan Ecolodge Association (ECOLA) Ecotourism Society of Pakistan (ESP) Asia-pacific forum of Environmental Journalists (APFEJ), Katmandu Environmental Education Project ( KEEP) Atsumi Family in Japan, Hamilton Weston family in England, Alvin and Lillian chandi family Netherlands, Jean-Yves and heisting Footmark and Annike Letag families in France helping tremendously on the programmes initiated by SLEF to support the community including the foster parents Project in Dodanduwa, Sri Lanka. Insider-Tours Sri Lanka based in UK and headed by Vasantha Kumar, Chairman and the Managing Director and his wife Harriet are the main Tourism partners of Sri Lanka Eco tours and Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation. Since 2003 Kumar has been sending a lot of up market ecotourists ton SLEF/SLET enabling to sustain the two organizations. Kumar also is instrumental in mobilizing a lot of support from UK and other parts of the world for the community programmes including the foster Parents Proramme initiated by SLEF.SLET The main international Partner of SLEF is Fredskorpset (FK) Oslo, Norway has been supporting the SLEF SINCE 2003 to build up the institutional capacity of the organization under the South-South Professional Volunteer Exchange program. The SLEF is really indebted to the FK for its generous support offered enabling the Organization to embark and complete varied ecotourism programmes which are of national regional and international importance. FK also came forward to assist SLEF in regeneration of community based ecotourism projects the main live hood of the communities in the south of Sri Lanka destroyed by the Tsunami Since 2001 the SLEF has maintained very cordial relationship with Ecotourism Association of Australia (EAA) now called as Ecotourism Australia. During last 5 years the Ecotourism Australia has invited SLEF for all its National conferences. SLEF has been recognized by the Ecotourism Australia as the 'National Ecotourism Organization in Sri Lanka' to take part at the Ecotourism Australia – 2006 International Conference and the meeting of National Ecotourism Associations world wide. These innovative conferees were held in tropical North Queensland town of Townsville in Australia. The theme of the conference was" Ecotourism: Building on Natural Advantages" the conference was held with great success, gathering around 300 delegates from 21 countries. Townville city Council secured sponsorship for 15 community-based delegates including SLEF to attend the 2006 International Ecotourism Conference. These delegates were supported by local businesses, organizations, Australian and Migrant Community groups interested in sharing experiences and knowledge with the delegates from all over the world.
The international Ecotourism Society (TIES) and Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF)
SLEF was the first professional Ecotourism Association in Sri Lanka to join then the ecotourism Society (TES) now known as the international
Ecotourism Society (TIES) in 1998. The SLEF was an active member of TIES for many years and participated
most of the programmers and activates initiated and launched by the TIES time to time. Prior to the
World Ecotourism Summit (WES) and during the international Year of Ecotourism (IYE), TIES conducted
important preparatory conferences in Asia Pacific Region, South Asia and Latin America. One such
conference – the South Asian Regional Conference in Ecotourism (SARCE) was held in Gangtok, Sikkim,
India in 2002. In this conference SLEF played an important role as a steering committee member of the
SARCE in association with the host organization Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS).
During past years SLEF worked closely with TIES in taking part in many activities and events initiated
and organized by TIES including the Global Ecotourism Conference (GEC) held in Oslo, Norway, in 2007.
In appreciation of the services rendered by the SLEF Palitha Gurusinghe the founding President of SLEF
has been appointed to the Advisory Board of TIES in May 2010.
Asia Pacific Regional Ecotourism Council (APREC) Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) supported by the international Ecotourism Society (TIES) Sri Lanka tourism and many other academic and tourism organizations Sri Lanka, hosted the Asia Pacific regional Ecotourism Conference (APREC 2009) in Colombo Sri Lanka from 7-8th May 2009. Theme of APREC was ….. To given "voice to Asia-Pacific region" that can be heard in the wider global forum of discussions… The event had been successfully concluded with an endorsement of Colombo Declaration, unanimously accepted by all Sri Lankan and Foreign Delegates attended.
"The Asia Pacific Regional Ecotourism conference 2009 (APREC 2009) aimed to promote and strengthen Community Based Ecotourism (CBE) in the Asia-Pacific region and to increase the competitiveness of CBE Products and services world wide inter-and intra-regional tourism markets. The world tourism organization (UNWTO) believes that tourism-which has become own to the millennium Development Goals (MDGs) regarding poverty alleviation. At the Johannesburg Summit on " Sustainable Development in 2002, UNWTO launched the inactive 'Sustainable Tourism as an effective too for Eliminating Poverty" (ST-EP) inviting UN agencies, governments, Donor agencies, NGOs and other stakeholder to join in a concentrated effort to make these mechanism work" Asia-Pacific regional Ecotourism Council (APREC) was formed during ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL ECOTOURISM CONFERENCE (APREC 2009) and the Secretariat was established in Colombo, Sri Lanka until the next conference is convened. See full conference info, presentations etc www.aprec2009.org
SLEF Ecolodge Project
SLEF has developed an Encolodge Project recently which is eco nature and environment and people friendly. SLEF is of the view that the term 'Ecologe' defined under the principles of ecotourism is often being abused most by the nature based accommodation facility built within the star class hotel premises or adjoining land areas, pristine nature locations using traditional construction materials such as wattle and daub, bamboos and thatched with coconut kadjan or illuk just cannot be called and 'Ecolodge. It is just' green washing!' if it is to be genuine encode the developer should support conservation of surrounding environment, help to improve living standers of surrounding communities, provide education to local and foreign guests and assure economic benefits to the local community. There are several important international criterion in developing ecolodges, such as help to conserve surrounding flora & fauna, facilitate to work together with local communities, offer international programmes to educate on surrounding natural & cultural events, use sustainable use of water careful handing of solid waste & waste water sustainable use of energy & renewable energy sources use of traditional building materials & technology have minimum impact on natural & surrounding environments fits into specific physical & cultural context-form landscape etc. assist socio-cultural and socioeconomic development of the local community though education programmers & researches etc. The Ecolodge Project developed by the SLEF meets requirement mentioned above. The SLEF will help the prospective tourism developers to transform their idling beautiful land to nature friendly ecotourism business ventures within a short period of time such as 30 days. Anyway any terrain in Sri Lanka! This sort of development is ideally suited for Forest gardens lands located in the vicinity of national parks, nature reserves, overlooking water fronts, waterfalls, rivers, lakes etc on the beach in cultural and heritage surroundings overlooking mountain rages, paddy fields, mangrove forests and wetlands. SLEF Ecolodge Project is community supportive which assures the community of direct alternative income. All construction works of the ecolodges are handled by the local community using their traditional know-how. SLEF requests all the tourism accommodation developers in Sri Lanka to be proud partners in promoting sustainable tourism fabric in Sri Lanka! In this effort, SLEF could guide developers on how to develop their tourism business to be a viable venture and to make Sri Lanka a 'Greener Tourism Destination' by incorporating the following genuine ecotourism covets such as Agro Tourism, Organic Farming and farm tourism community Based tourism Heritage and culture tourism wildlife and forest tourism camping tourism spiritual and wellness tourism and many more diverse segments of ecotourism businesses which bring the developer a substantial income. SLEF also could help the prospective developers not only build their dream lodges but also undertake to promote marketing of their accommodation units to domestic and international up-market tourists. SLEF package includes free marketing promotion of the prospective business though it's well established local and international networks, websites electronic and print media. SLEF also pleased to help the developers in obtaining of required clearance from the tourism and environmental authorities and to provide them with internationally accredited Eco-labeling and certification.