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It is commonly understood where the term ‘sustainable’, as to being ‘eco-friendly’, where it is true that a part of being sustainable would be by being environment friendly, but, an attraction or a destination could be ‘green’ as it is but still not sustainable. When understanding what sustainable tourism is, there are three major pillars that are commonly highlighted; environmental, economic, and socio-cultural factors where tourism has to favor all these three areas in order to be considered as ‘sustainable tourism’.
The goal is to reduce negative impacts and maintain a healthy positive impact on a destination, its resources, travelers, and the inhabitants also with the aim of preserving a sufficient quantity of natural resources enabling future generations to live and satisfy their own needs.
Tourism being one of the largest and fastest-growing industries, there could be impacts on the biological diverse habitats and local cultures which are mostly used for mass tourism.
Tourism solves problems in destinations like employment, poverty, conserving nature, and protecting cultures. Thus, if not planned properly there could be exceeded in capacities, and it is not profitable in the long-term and could harm the resources and nature. This concept protects harm from mass tourism up to a level and its consequences. If tourism is developed sustainably, it could:
Long-term investment, efficient, improve guest comfort, highlight innovation, reduce energy consumption. Reduction in property operation and maintenance (POM) expenses. The latest efficient equipment costs less to maintain, such as LED lights that only need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years.
Sponsoring, welfare & social services Enhances resort image, recognition, trust, and support within the host communities.
Implementation of sustainable practices could be an expensive Increase in RevPar. Can showcase the sustainability practices to differentiate from other establishments that have basic practices. This will lead to an increase in revenue, the perceived value of the resort as well as customer retention rates. Probability of earning awards and certifications.
Maintenance costs Productivity and outcome will be higher. Reduces operating costs increasing profit.
Salary, wages, and allowances to be paid. Training on sustainable practices. New job roles for the community to manage and follow these practices. Eg;- Resort naturalist.
Suggestions of sustainable initiatives that the resort can practice.
Kalpitiya is famous for its dry fish, prawn farms, and mud crabs which were exported to countries like Singapore. Food, beverage and other needed resources can be encouraged to be purchased from local suppliers to make sure money stays within the national economy to prevent leakage. In this way, locals really benefit from tourism in that area. Local material could also be used for furniture and interiors.
Giving back to the community; could be donations, campaigns, events, workshops, etc.
According to SLTDA’s Kalpitiya City Development project, the rate of employment in the regions stands at 95% with an unemployment rate of 05%. However, 30% of the employed population consists of casual laborers. Therefore, implementing a program for vocational training to educate the locals within the area itself to be recruited can be encouraged. Eliminating third party transport or taxi services, allowing the locals to continue to provide the guests with tours and transportation around Kalpitiya.
Promote understanding of different cultures to improve the quality of life for the local population and develop a sense of pride in traditional culture and identity through proper interpretation.
Kalpitiya region makes a substantial contribution to the national grid of power distribution in the country. There are 06 Wind Power Plants in the areas of Kalpitiya. Taking this as an example, renewable energy sources could be used within the resort such as solar energies, onsite biomass boiler (a combustion system through sewage, industrial waste, agriculture residues to give out electrical or mechanical energy), can reduce the impact on the environment. Motion sensors, energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, low-flow water faucets are some simple and cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste.
Solid waste collection in Kalpitiya urban area, amount to about 05 metric tons per day. Landfills are seen where the waste generated is being disposed of. Waste can cause air and water pollution while garbage is also known to produce harmful gases. Implementing a Solid Waste Management System within the resort could be done in the most efficient manner possible, to keep costs low and prevent waste buildup. Prevention of waste through more proactive product and service design can be brought up that reduces the need for recycling such as reusable water bottles and reusable toiletry containers. Biodegradable waste could be recycled to use in the resort garden or for their own agricultural purposes.
Onsite water bottling plant. The resort’s own wastewater could be purified and treated to be re-used as clean drinkable water, used in food & beverage, laundry services, and other purposes. Rainwater collection for gardening irrigation.
One of the unique features of Kalpitiya is that it is one of the most beautiful unpolluted coastal areas in the North-Western Province with fourteen small islands in close proximity to the whale- and dolphin-watching sites in the seas. Twenty-three varieties of indigenous mangroves that protect the beach are also the food for the fish found aplenty in the sea. Kalpitiya is well known for its beach, recreational activities, diving, water sports, and wildlife tourism as well. The biggest coral reef on the Sri Lankan coast stretching up to 30 kilometers is also found in Kalpitiya. Initiating a cetacean information center onsite, which shares information and knowledge in marine species and the environment with locals, tourists, and other communities. Can conduct awareness programs, dolphin whale and dolphin watching tours that could be carried out by the resort employees.
Implementing an organic garden to grow fresh produce that could be used for the staff cafeteria.
Identifying the barriers in implementing sustainable initiatives
A number of initiatives have succeeded in establishing sustainable initiatives, but many have not been sustained. Some points that make sustainable tourism hard to maintain:
There is a demand for tourist activities and consumption has been influenced in many ways like technological progress, urbanization, population growth, and the development of products. Sri Lanka as a developing country, both domestic and outbound tourism demand is increasing rapidly.
There should be a concept of sustainable practices to establish tourist offers in order to contribute to the economy of a destination, and meet the satisfactory needs of the society, and to conserve the resources of an environment in an ethical manner. Proper management of resources in a destination can bring out long-term development and improvement in the society and economy while resulting in satisfied travelers that can be proudly offered with a complex product or a service without any hesitation.
Tourism itself must not be an obstacle to its own growth. It is important to improve the positive image and the impact of tourism on the environment, natural resources, and cultural values of the host communities. In order to preserve natural ecosystems and maintain biodiversity, it is important to follow and act according to the principles of sustainable tourism.
Respecting socio-cultural heritage, stable employment for the local communities, the growth of their income as well as satisfied tourists who are willing to revisit a tourist destination are some of the results of adhering and applying the principles of sustainable development.
Reaching out to the sustainable development of all factors, starting from the state government, local self-governments, non-governmental organizations, media, and tourists, will contribute to the long-term effects of the adopted strategy.
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