Are you confused between sustainable travel, eco tourism, green travel and responsible travel? Well, don’t be. All these terms are used interchangeably and mean the same thing – the idea of being more conscious of how we travel, while minimizing negative impacts on the environment, and positively impacting local communities and economies.

What is sustainable travel?

Sustainable travel, also known as eco-friendly or responsible travel, refers to a way of traveling that aims to have a minimal impact on the environment, culture, and economy of the destination. The goal is to preserve and protect the destinations visited so that they remain viable for future generations. Sustainable travel in Sri Lanka takes into consideration the social, economic, and environmental aspects of tourism.

Three Principles/Pillars of Sustainability

  1. Environmental Pillar – travelling must reduce negative impacts on environment and wildlife.
  2. Social Pillar – travelling must positively benefit local people and communities.
  3. Economic Pillar – travelling should positively contribute to the local economy.

Things to consider when travelling sustainably

  • Environmental Conservation: Minimizing the negative impact on natural resources, ecosystems, and wildlife. This involves reducing waste, conserving energy, and respecting the local flora and fauna.
  • Cultural Respect: Respecting and appreciating the local culture, traditions, and heritage of the destination. Travelers are encouraged to engage with local communities in a positive and respectful manner.
  • Social and Economic Benefits: Supporting local communities by patronizing local businesses, using locally produced goods and services, and contributing to the overall economic well-being of the destination.
  • Preservation of Local Resources: Using resources efficiently and responsibly to ensure that they are available for future generations. This includes water, energy, and other natural resources.
  • Reducing Carbon Footprint: Minimizing the environmental impact of travel by choosing eco-friendly transportation options, reducing carbon emissions, and supporting initiatives that offset or mitigate the environmental impact.

Examples of sustainable travel practices include choosing eco-friendly accommodations, using public transportation or alternative transportation methods, participating in community-based tourism activities, and being mindful of waste generation.

Many organizations, destinations, and travel companies are increasingly adopting sustainable practices and promoting responsible tourism to address the environmental and social challenges associated with travel. Travelers can play a crucial role by making informed choices that align with the principles of sustainability and minimizing their impact on the places they visit.

Sustainable Travel in Sri Lanka

To be a sustainable traveler in Sri Lanka, you must be more aware of pollution levels caused by travel, how that will affect the environment, and how your tourism needs will affect the local people and native cultures.

  • Figure out the most sustainable form of transportation to get to Sri Lanka. Direct flights and economy class are greener than transit routes and business class seats.
  • If using private transport when in Sri Lanka, travel with a group to minimize environmental impact.
  • Travel slow – spend more time at each beach, wildlife, hill country, trekking, and historical destinations in Sri Lanka.
  • Eco lodges and eco-friendly hotels are an ideal accommodation option and are available in many parts of the island. Gal Oya National Park is a great place to visit as a sustainable travel option with eco friendly accommodation available just there.
  • Do not go for all-inclusive packages of holidays in Sri Lanka. Instead, go out to local restaurants and help the local economy.
  • Camping and glamping encourages sustainable travel in Sri Lanka.
  • Choose responsible wildlife tourism that does not disturb animals in their natural habitat. During whale watching tour offerings for example, stay quiet and try to ride away from the pool of blue whales.
  • Snorkel and scuba dive responsibly – go with smaller groups and avoid treading close to the coral reefs.
  • Volunteer with NGO and community tourism projects in Sri Lanka to learn about local life and practices.
  • As much as possible, eat in restaurants and cafes that are owned by locals. Avoid international fast-food chains because these don’t help the local economy.
  • Local street food vendors serve some of the most authentic Sri Lankan dishes so don’t be afraid to try those.
  • If you need to purchase groceries, go for locally produced items rather than imported ones.
  • Buy souvenirs that are unique to the country and made by Sri Lankan artisans.
  • Pack light because heavy luggage leads to more fuel consumption for an aircraft, resulting in more carbon emissions. Reusable bottles, bags, and boxes and an eco-friendly toiletries kit is essential.

How can you encourage sustainable travel?

In addition to travelers, airlines, local governments, business owners and host countries on the whole are responsible for a sustainable tourism model. Many of these entities want to encourage sustainable travel but are concerned about how travelers might feel about restrictions and how it may negatively impact mass tourism. As a sustainable traveler, you must speak up and let businesses know that there is a good market for sustainable tourism that is keen on knowing sustainability initiatives in terms of Sri Lankan tourism.

It also helps to share your travel experiences with friends, family and anyone you meet, particularly on social media. The more you talk about your sustainable travel, the more people will be interested in it.

What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?

Sustainable tourism benefits Sri Lanka in the following ways:

  • Supports local communities
  • Allows wildlife to be in wild
  • Allows travelers to make conscious choices
  • Keeps the environment clean
  • Eating local saves a lot of emissions, thereby creating a lower ecological impact.

The Sri Lankan tourism industry is massive, and creates circular economies through supply chains and local employment that reduces the gap between income levels in rural and urban parts of the country. Travel Treasures Sri Lanka encourage sustainable travelers to understand the diverse cultures between the north and south of Sri Lanka, creating community interactions away from the common tourism trail. As a result, sustainable tourism creates a deeper understanding of the lives of different ethnicities and religions.