Eco-Tourism for Sustainable Development Case study in Knuckles Mountain Forest in Sri Lanka
Eco-tourism has become an important economic activity and it providesopportunities for visitors to experience powerful manifestations of nature, culture and tolearn about the importance of biodiversity conservation. Ecological-based tourism couldbenefit the community and environment in a sustainable and community-friendlymanner. Knuckles mountain range, which is blended with natural and cultural resources,is considered as an attractive ecotourism destination place in Sri Lanka. The objectivesof this study were to identify existing eco-tourism activities in the region and introducethe eco-tourism for the sustainability of the Knuckles forest and the peripheralcommunity. Data was collected using a field survey, participatory rural appraisal andinformal meetings with stakeholders and publish materials. Field survey was conductedwithin two village clusters namely Meemure and Reveston. Five villagers were selectedfrom one cluster and 10 households were selected from each village.
Research findings show that the lack of awareness and lack of availability ofproper information are the most common causes for the less tourist arrival to this area.The majority of the visitors are local tourists who come in small groups. These visitorsexpect improvement of infrastructure and strengthening of the institutional capacity toenable the environment of local people to interpret the ecological and social heritage.Based on the findings of the study the most important issues that should be taken intoconsideration in promoting tourism in Knuckles are: strengthening the institutionalcapacities of relevant stakeholders, developments of infrastructure in the area, publicizeKnuckles range in the media, encourage villagers to participate in eco-tourism activities.This alternative benefit will help to the peripheral community to sustain theirlivelihoods, forest resource management and help social, economic and environmentsustainability in the Knuckles area.
Key words: Eco-tourism and sustainable development, Community development,Sustainable forest management
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