Sri Lanka is an excellent destination for eco-tourism, as its natural environment is famed for its great scenic beauty and diversity. It ranges from clear blue coastal waters, rare unique wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, coral reefs and sandy beaches on one hand to primeval forests, wetlands and mountain environments on the other. Super-imposed upon this are historic and cultural sites of antiquity going back to over 2000 years.
Ecotourism is responsible travel to natural and cultural areas, which conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of the local people (According to late Chandra de Silva, Founder President- Ecotourism Society of Sri Lanka)
Ecotourism is often used interchangeably with other terms such as nature based tourism, sustainable tourism, green tourism, responsible tourism and soft tourism. While some elements of these different tourism types are similar, the terms are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive.
Prof S W Kotagma has defined eco-tourism in Sri Lanka as responsible travel to natural and cultural areas that conserve the environment and improve the well-being of local communities. Therefore, it is clear that the Eco-tourism has a direct link in conserving the Bio-diversity.
According to Sri Lankan Ecoturism Foundation (SLEF) eco-tourism should be used as a tool to conserve the environment, preserve age-old cultural heritage, provide in-depth information about Sri Lanka and to satisfy the needs of both national and international Ecotourists visiting genuine eco sites in the island. SLEF promotes transition of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry from the traditional “sun, sea and sand” based mass tourism to nature based tourism, with an emphasis on ecotourism.
Sri Lanka Tourist Board has also recognized this new segment of tourism and changed Its slogan to “beyond beaches, culture, nature, adventure” which fits very well with ecotourism.