Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Ministry of Tourism with the technical and financial assistance of UNDP in Sri Lanka has initiated the National Sustainable Destination Certification (NSDC) scheme to transform 9 chosen destinations in 9 provinces with the best sustainable practices as the 2nd phase of the National Sustainable Tourism Initiative.
Sustainability is a key driver to preserve and conserve the island’s outstanding natural and cultural heritage to safeguard the destination for its people and visitors. Realizing the value while observing the current importance given to sustainable tourism globally, in the year 2018 Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority entered into an MoU with UNDP Sri Lanka followed by the launch of the National Sustainable Tourism Certification (NSTC) Scheme in 2019 where 37 accommodation service providers were awarded for their best sustainable practices.
With international arrivals expected to rise globally again in the future, destinations will strive to enhance their tourism competitiveness. While tourism growth brings positive outcomes for countries, there could also be negative impacts due to unplanned tourism and tourist hot spots will feel the pressure of tourism again.
“Ministry of Tourism with its ambitious growth targets of tourists’ arrivals acknowledges that the tourism industry needs to continue in offering positive tourism experiences ensuring long term sustainability.Sustainable best practices are the need of the hour today and we continue to do our part in transforming the tourism industry into a sustainable friendly one. I urge all the Ministries to join us in implementing sustainable best practices across the country” Mr. S. Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism shared.
Sustainable Tourism is no longer an option, to remain competitive in the global arena we must adapt to the demands made by travellers. Sri Lanka is a small island vulnerable to climate change with its tourism product heavily dependent on natural resources, hence it is essential to develop the industry sustainably, said Ms. Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism.
Over the course of this year, Sri Lanka Tourism and UNDP Sri Lanka have conducted 8 provincial trainings with the participation of provincial council officials, regional authorities and community stakeholders, on transforming destinations by implementing the best sustainable tourism practices in their respective provinces and locality.
Commenting on the initiative, Ramitha Wijethunge, National Programme Officer, Climate and Environment Team at UNDP in Sri Lanka stated,
“UNDP has been a long-standing partner of the sustainability initiatives spearheaded by Sri Lanka Tourism. Since 2018, we have assisted the Sustainability Certification programme, an important pre-requisite for the industry to ensure Sri Lanka prioritises sustainability. Working together, UNDP has assisted in the successful completion of the first round of accommodation certification programmes, and is further supporting the ongoing Sustainable Destination Certification scheme. UNDP stands committed with Sri Lanka Tourism in its long-term efforts to build a more resilient and sustainable tourism sector in the country.”
Under the National Sustainable Destination Certification (NSDC) scheme, priority is given to environmental conservation; starting from prevention of single-use plastics, waste management, crowd controlling and involvement of local communities who would reap these benefits in the long run, as tourism is an interdependent ecosystem.
The certification scheme will be implemented across 9 provinces and the selected destinations are as follows,