Achieving a Sustainable Future for Sri Lanka's Tourism Industry

SLTDA Establishes Sustainability Tourism Unit

February 1, 2023
SLTDA and UNDP representatives ceremoniously opening the Sustainable Tourism Unit

SLTDA and UNDP Representatives ceremoniously opening the Sustainable Tourism Unit

26 January, Colombo, Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) is pleased to announce the launch of a Sustainability Tourism Unit, an initiative aimed at supporting sustainable practices in Sri Lanka’s tourism sector. The unit, established with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka through the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN), will promote sustainable practices throughout the  tourism industry in the country.

Sustainable tourism intends to minimize negative social, economic, and environmental impacts while maximizing positive contributions to local communities, culture, and heritage, and is considered an essential aspect of both national and international tourism policies. In compliance with the Sustainable Development Act passed in 2017, and the Tourism Strategic Plan 2017-2020, the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) took proactive measures to incorporate sustainability in the tourism industry through introduction of the National Sustainable Tourism Certification program in 2018. The first phase of the program focused on the hotels and the accommodation sector, while it is currently being extended to include other sectors such as travel operations and destinations. The establishment of the Sustainability Tourism Unit is expected to provide support and enhance such initiatives while working towards achieving key objectives including;

  • Lead the implementation of sustainability related components of the National Tourism Policy 
  • Formulate and implement strategies to promote sustainability related concepts with private sector tourism service providers
  • Liaise with international organisations and donor agencies for sustainable tourism initiatives.
  • Implement sustainable tourism certifications programme schemes for all tourism service categories in Sri Lanka 
  • Strengthen the linkages between the tourism industry and the sustainable management of biodiversity and cultural heritage sites  
  • Strengthen collaborations between the national level and provincial level tourism management agencies

"We are committed to promoting sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka and believe that this new unit will play a vital role in achieving that goal," said SLTDA Chairman, Priantha Fernando. "We are proud to have partnered with UNDP to establish this important initiative and look forward to working together to make Sri Lanka a leader in sustainable tourism."

Commenting on UNDPs role in supporting wider tourism initiatives in the country, Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka stated, “UNDP is proud to be a long-standing partner in the Sri Lankan tourism industry. Particularly, at this crucial time, through strategic initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Unit and the Sustainable Destination Certification scheme can significantly contribute towards improving people’s livelihoods and the country’s overall long-term objectives of attaining a more green and inclusive recovery from the pandemic and socio-economic crisis.”