Book Review: "The Story of Ecotourism Sri Lanka" by Palitha Gurusinghe, President, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation
‘The first ever book published in Sri Lanka to record the important landmarks of Sri Lanka Ecotourism for the benefit of those who are interested, inquisitive and looking forward to widening their horizons in Ecotourism"
Reviewed by; Iraj Ratnayake, PhD, Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka (SUSL)
The story of Ecotourism Sri Lanka is a detailed account of Sri Lanka's effort in adapting, developing, and promoting ecotourism during last two decades. It is a memoir of sorts, a higher autobiography, an echo back to Sri Lanka's pioneering ecotourism activist─ Palitha Gurusinghe, President, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF) The author emphasizes Sri Lanka's potential for local value addition in the process of ecotourism development where he compiles a rich account on astonishing resource base of the island nation. Especially the author is very critical and justifies the true potential of vibrant culture, centuries-old heritage and the rich biodiversity to develop and promote ecotourism.
Gurusinghe hints with passion, where he presents some success stories of ecotourism especially from neighbouring states and asserts Sri Lanka's experience of developing the same and missed opportunities due to lack of necessary institutional support.
Gurusinghe whose life journey was shaped with socialist ideology on one hand appropriately determined his course of action towards empowering the underprivileged. In order to bring sustained peace to their lives, author's response to eradicate poverty through promoting ecotourism with a strong community stake has been highlighted. On the other hand, the author's political assertion has led to a strong critique of the past and the present tourism development approaches of the country. He points out the repercussions resulting from undertaking tourism as a development activity in a policy vacuum.
In the context where we are considering tourism as a development strategy and therefore favouring much on the volume rather than value, Gurusinghe is of a different view. He critically argues that present tourism development strategy of the country is in contradiction with the practice.
His painstaking efforts were considerable which helped national tourism organisations to reconsider and reorient their agendas inclining towards development and promotion of ecotourism. Moreover, Gurusinghe in his arguments favours networking community initiatives, fair trade, and social responsibility as essential constituents of the success and the way towards disciplined development.
The story of Ecotourism Sri Lanka, a treat for ecotourists, environmental enthusiasts, community activists, policymakers and tourism educators in the field of sustainable tourism where Palitha Gurusinghe compiles his views, perspectives, and more importantly his experience enriched with ecotourism development in Sri Lanka.