Responsible tourism: Sri Lankan vacation highlights
Accommodation and Meals: All of the hotels we stay in are dedicated to hiring local staff and using freshly sourced produce wherever possible. This helps to benefit the surrounding community by providing employment opportunities and income alternatives where they may be otherwise hard to come by. We also try to select accommodation which has strong environmental policies. For example, Hotel Sigiriya uses scheduled light switching, recycling and waste regulations, water saving cisterns etc. Where meals are not provided, we suggest that clients spread their commerce to small local businesses and try some authentic food. There will be a chance to do this on our village lunch en route to Dambalawewa.
Activity: We are very conscious of the environment and try to limit our impact on our surroundings as much as possible. All of our vehicles used on this tour are subject to annual eco testing and we monitor this closely in order to reduce our carbon footprint. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants and use markets to purchase traditional crafts. We also leave a positive impression by visiting important National Parks, ruins and museums- our entrance fees to which contributes to their upkeep e.g. Minneriya N.P., the Temple of the Tooth and Perudeniya Botanical Gardens.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Charity: We have financially co-sponsored a local Tsunami relief project, which has enabled 25 families to be rehoused and for two schools to be equipped with toilets, running water and outdoor swings. In collaboration with a German operator and the village temple, we have helped towards 10 large water tanks and an eye clinic in a remote village with a donation of 200 pairs of glasses. We also assisted a principal agent of Unicef in development of day care and education of school children of the estate sector labourers in the hill country.
Local Craft and Culture: There are plenty of opportunities to engages with local culture on the several visits to towns, villages and historically important sites and events. During the Summer months our visit to the Temple of the Tooth may coincide with the Buddhist Kandy festival, which is a long honoured celebration of a relic thought to be found on the island. We may be able to see a performance of traditional Kandian dancing and fire walking here. There are many places to buy handcrafted souvenirs along the way (e.g. Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya) but one of the best places might be the Gem Museum at Kandy. Here clients can learn about the traditional methods of gem extraction and purchasing here is a great way to keep this information centre open.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.