Archive for July, 2010

Mirissa Water Sports, Sri Lanka – a Pro Poor Tourism Enterprise

What is Pro Poor Tourism?

Pro-Poor Tourism (PPT) as defined by the Pro Poor Tourism Partnership is tourism that results in increased net benefits for poor people. PPT is not a specific product or niche sector but an approach to tourism development and management. It enhances the linkages between tourism businesses and poor people, so that tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction is increased and poor people are able to participate more effectively in product development. Links with many different types of ‘the poor’ need to be considered: staff, neighboring communities, land-holders, producers of food, fuel and other suppliers, operators of micro tourism businesses, craft-makers, other users of tourism infrastructure (roads) and resources (water) etc. There are many types of pro poor tourism strategies, ranging from increasing local employment to building mechanisms for consultation. Any type of company can be involved in pro-poor tourism – a small lodge, an urban hotel, a tour operator, an infrastructure developer. The critical factor is not the type of company or the type of tourism, but that an increase in the net benefits that go to poor people can be demonstrated.

Mirissa Water Sports – a Pro Poor Tourism Enterprise

Mirissa Water Sports PVT Ltd (MWS) is a water sports and recreation company that offers whale watching, sports fishing and other activities such as sailing, coastal cruises, snorkeling and boating activities for both domestic and international tourists in Southern Sri Lanka who have high disposable incomes.

The enterprise is owned and operated by seven under privileged youth from Mirissa and was set up in partnership with Build A Future Foundation. In addition other partnerships have been set up with the tourism industry’s private sector and MWS to provide mentoring, training, marketing, & technical knowledge to the enterprise.

Establishing and running an enterprise by the under privileged youth has significant challenges however the potential rewards are vast enabling the youth to enter the formal tourism sector and become empowered in the process. MWS complements the existing livelihood activities of the community (fish retailing, wholesaling, government workers, crew members of fishing boats etc..) offering an opportunity for the underprivileged youth to diversify from the traditional fishing industry and maximize the linkages into the local, regional and national economy.

For any specific pro poor tourism initiative, the positives and negatives need to be compared, and the balance assessed (Ashley, C. 2000). A recent analysis by AdLib Consulting shows that the MWS tourism enterprise has more positive impacts than negative impacts on the community and their livelihood assets. In addition for any initiative to be considered Pro-Poor it needs to generate net benefits for the poor and unlock opportunities for the poor within tourism rather than expanding the overall size of the sector (Ashley 1999). The MWS enterprise demonstrates a number of principles of Pro-Poor Tourism (PPT Annual Register 2005) such as:

– The target beneficiaries are marginalized and financially poor – employs 10 individuals

– Increased market access for the marginalized

– Involvement of the private sector in reducing poverty through business activity rather than philanthropy

– Costs to the poor are minimized and benefits are maximized

– Demonstrates a net benefit to a particular group of beneficiaries

– Commercially viable

MWS provides a light house example in Sri Lanka of a successful pro poor tourism enterprise.

For more information on developing Pro Poor Tourism Initiatives contact

July 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

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