Thursday, 26 October 2017, Colombo: The Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) has extended its support to the initiative taken by the Department of Wildlife to limit the number of vehicles entering Yala National Park. The Association is of the view that Yala is over visited and continued over visitation will only result in the ruin of Yala itself.
A list of workable proposals on managing the over-visitation in Yala has been detailed in a report that was formulated by a committee consisting of all stakeholders, including the DWC under the guidance of the policy planning office of the Prime Minister’s office. The implementation of these proposals will be carried out by the DWC as the sole custodian of the National Parks under the Fauna and Flora ordinance. This report was the result of a six-month long process. The proposals if implemented will manage the over visitation without it affecting the economic benefit to the DWC or the local stake holders in the area.
Increasingly, over-visitation of Yala is posing a threat to the flora and fauna in the park. Environmentalists have stressed the need for strict regulations to limit the number of vehicles entering the park for some time now, so as to retain the bio diversity in the park and reduce pollution caused by vehicle emissions.
In recent months, the negative publicity of over-visitation as shared in social media and newspaper reports is rendering Yala unpopular among foreign tour operators, thus affecting tourism revenue and livelihoods. Overseas tour operators who are mindful of ethical tourism are reluctant to include Yala in tour itineraries as tourists often complain that the good experience of an animal citing is often marred by overcrowding of vehicles in the one location, even leading to traffic jams. This move to regulate visitation into the national park is expected to be received favourably by tour operators.
This joint consensus is a pioneering and ideal approach to ensure all stakeholders are consulted in matters that can have an impact on livelihoods and the economy. As the apex body for in-bound tourism and established to promote and foster the rapid and long term growth of tourism in Sri Lanka by providing and maintaining a high standard of excellence in the services provided for the comfort and convenience of the tourist in all aspects, the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) champions industry causes.