Sri Lanka expert panel urges action on community-based tourism

April 01, 2008 (LBO) – A growing demand for community-based tourism services from global travelers is creating new opportunities to boost incomes of poorer communities provided their inputs are bought at good prices. “Tourism has undeniable potential for pro-poor economic development in Sri Lanka,” Sri Lanka’s tourism ministry said in a statement.

“Community heritage and resources are now increasingly becoming decisive inputs for tourism development.”

The advisory panel, headed by D A C Silva, from the University of Colombo and Palitha Gurusinghe of the Sri Lanka Eco Tourism Foundation, was appointed by tourism minister Milinda Moragoda.

Community-based tourism is increasingly seen as an effective pro-poor strategy.

But a report by the advisory panel pointed out that the “objectives of sustainable development may not be achieved if a fair share of such benefits are not given to community members who are directly involved in tourism development.”

The report says resources and indigenous skills belonging to these communities should not be undervalued and underutilized in the development of the tourism industry in the country.

“Communities must be given fair and equal opportunities in the