Sri Lanka to permit hotels in wildlife buffer zones

June 30, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka will permit eco-friendly hotels in buffer zones adjacent to nature reserves to cater to increased local and international interest in the island’s wildlife assets, a government minister said.

Abeywardene said investors were also keen to protect nature now.

“Investors now do not want to damage the environment,” he said. “That is helping us a lot. They come looking for nature reserves.”

Abeywardene said there had been massive protests when a hotel was built near the banks of a tank in Kandalama in Sri Lanka’s central province but ultimately no damage has been done as claimed by protestors.

Jetwing Leisure group’s Yala Safari Lodge, a resort that was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami, was also in a buffer zone for decades. Industry officials say the hotel had even provided resources for authorities to keep water holes filled during droughts.

Vil Uyana, a resort started by Jetwing, was built around a man-made wetland.

Abeywardene said the sea around the Hikkaduwa beach tourism area in the South West coast has been declared a protected coral reserve from this week.

Guidelines had also been issued on boat use.

Deputy economic development minister Lakshman Abeywa