Eco tourism, the fastest growing segment in Sri Lanka has a huge potential and it is important to brand Sri Lanka for eco tourism to get the maximum benefit, Ella Adventure Park, Chairman, Major Vijith Welikala told Daily News Business.
He said that there had been many foreign inquiries in this segment since the war ended, and the country must be ready to meet this demand.
He said that eco tourism could be promoted in underdeveloped areas in the country and therefore it is not necessary to invest heavily on this sector.
Exploring the lesser known areas of Sri Lanka can get an immediate boom, he said. This is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the industry, he said. However, if this is to be sustainable there should be a strategy to protect the environment from eco terrorism and green washing, he said.
Local bodies should get directly involved and benefit by eco tourism and everything has to be knowledge based, as the visitors who come are intellectuals and are high spenders. For example those visitors will enjoy the sound of drums but they would want to know how the drum is manufactured, he said.
There have been several inquiries from niche markets mainly for adventure, eco and spiritual tourism and most of them are individual travellers.
An investment of Rs. 20 million has been received from a US citizen to develop the Ella Adventure Park to 42 rooms to be ready by the end of next year, Welikala said.