By Ifham Nizam
The Environment Ministry and the Tourism Ministry had joined hands to appoint a joint expert committee to formulate an eco-tourism strategic plan, a senior government official said.
Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe said that the objective of the programme was to promote the tourism industry as well as environmental protection.
“Sri Lanka has a vast flora and fauna biodiversity, pristine beaches and priceless ancient sites. The mangrove system can also attract a large number of tourists. But biodiversity is under serious threat due to the unintentional destruction by certain people in our country,” he said expressing concern.
Although there are many places in Sri Lanka where eco-tourism can be found, the ecotourism industry has not yet developed in a formal way. Therefore, the Environment and Tourism Ministries have decided to initiate a joint program to formulate an eco-tourism strategic plan aimed at attracting tourists to the ecotourism industry as part of promotion and development of our tourism industry.
A special discussion on this matter was held at the Ministry of Environment earlier this week. Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe, and Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi chaired the discussion.
Attention was drawn to the identification of eco-tourist attractions, the implementation of this program as a tactic to protect the environment, and to encourage more tourists to come to the country not only for entertainment but also for knowledge.
It was agreed to appoint a committee of experts with a standard knowledge of tourism and the environment to carry out the task.
It was also emphasized that the eco-tourism industry is very important as a source of income for our country as the 2018-22 Biodiversity Action Plan and the National Environmental Plan also include the development of eco-tourism industries.
Officials from the Special Projects Division of the Ministry of Environment also participated in the discussion.