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