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The Development of Tourism in Post Conflict Destinations

I have been working on the development of tourism in post conflicts areas of Sri Lanka, predominantly the Eastern Province, for the past 18 months. As an advocate for Responsible Tourism I have definitely struggled with the way that some of the development has taken place and the total absence of responsible tourism planning in Sri Lanka since the end of the 30 year conflict in May 2009. I have also read a lot of negative publicity with some of the headlines being;
“International calls grow for end to tourism land grabs in Sri Lanka, TourismConcern Press Release, 25 July 2011”
“Sri Lanka, new tourism projects threaten the lives of fishermen, Asia News, Sunday, 16 January 2011.”
All of this led me to look internationally to see what literature and case studies exist as well as what frameworks have been successfully implemented to ensure the responsible development of tourism in post conflict destinations. While there have been a range of studies internationally, there are no recent or relevant tourism studies that have been conducted since the end of Sri Lanka’s conflict in May 2009 that provide both the private and public sector with lessons learned in tourism development from other post conflict countries. Read more by clicking on the following link: Literature Review – The Development of Tourism in Post Conflict Destinations

September 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

Sustainability Reporting

I recently attended a conference in Sri Lanka on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – G3 guidelines for sustainability reporting. GRI is the world’s most widely used and accepted sustainability reporting framework. The framework sets out the principles and indicators that organizations can use to measure and report their triple bottom line (economic, environmental, and social performance). Most importantly though it requests that companies place their sustainability reports in the public domain and requires that companies demonstrate their achievements towards the Millennium Development Goals.

In Sri Lanka only three publicly listed companies produce GRI sustainability reports for the public domain. This is less than 1% of the 232 companies, in 20 sectors listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange. Of these three companies, two are involved in the leisure sector; Aitken Spence and John Keells Holdings. As a comparison, there are only 8 Indian publicly listed companies, from a total of over 4,900 companies. Globally there are approximately 3,900 companies that report on their triple bottom line (TBL) in the public domain of which between 50 and 100 are from the travel, leisure and aviation industry.

Yes, sustainability reporting is still in its infancy as a concept and the figures in India and Sri Lanka show only a very small handful of companies are currently reporting on their triple bottom line impacts to ever more demanding and scrutinising shareholders, regulatory bodies and to the general public. These audiences want to see disclosure and greater transparency. They want to see both the positive and the negative triple bottom line impacts. They also want to see action plans towards maximizing the positive impacts and minimizing the negative impacts.

To date in most countries sustainability reporting is voluntary with the UK being one of the few exceptions. In 2006 when the UK Companies Act was revised it became a legal obligation for companies listed on the London Stock Exchange to publicly report their impact on the environment and the community, and not just the company’s bottom line. There is still a long way to go before governments around the world make triple bottom line reporting compulsory.
The International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) is working on a global accounting framework with the aim of integrating traditional financial reporting with TBL reporting. Companies will only have to produce one annual report and global sustainability comparisons between companies will be able to be made. It is unknown when this will come into play – it could take many years.

In the mean time all companies (not just publicly listed), governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), not for profit entities and even tourism destinations must move beyond financial and CSR reporting and commence reporting on the TBL transparently, with integrity and with a real and long term commitment to sustainability. Don’t just pay it lip service for the sake of producing a report or for the sake of a marketing ploy – your most important current and potential stakeholders will see straight through this.

Remember that sustainability is a journey and that journeys have to start from somewhere.
As a responsible tourism campaigner I actively encourage everyone in the tourism industry to take part in this journey and start reporting publicly your triple bottom line impacts!

Global Reporting Inititiative –
John Keells Sustainability Report 2009/10 –…/doc…/67-sustainability-report-200910.html
Aitken Spence Sustainability Report 2009/10 –
TUI Sustainability Report 2009/10-

November 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

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

A critical review of the Responsible Tourism issues in Galle Fort, Sri Lanka using the triple bottom line approach.

As a UN World Heritage site, Galle Fort has enormous potential as a visitor attraction as well as significant potential in generating economic benefits to the residents of the fort. With the end of Sri Lanka’s 26 year conflict in May 2009 Galle Fort is experiencing increased numbers of tourists, particularly domestic tourists, placing pressure on all of its assets, both cultural and heritage. In addition in May 2008 UNESCO sent a reactive monitoring mission to Galle Fort to assess the state of its conservation after major concerns were expressed regarding the recent building of the international cricket stadium as well as plans to develop Galle Harbour. With these concerns raised and the absence of a tourism plan being implemented it is essential to critically review the triple bottom line responsible tourism issues of Galle Fort for it to remain as one of the best preserved living fortifications in Asia.

To read the full report click here –  Galle Fort Triple Bottom Line Responsible Tourism Issues

June 15, 2010 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

Greening Sri Lanka Hotels

As a board member of the Responsible Tourism Partnership in Sri Lanka I have been involved in a new initiative called Green Sri Lanka Hotels (GSLH). The initiative was launched today and is designed to enhance the environmental performance of Sri Lanka’s hotels through improvement of energy, water and waste management systems, a reduction in the cost of operations and increase the market acceptance of Sri Lankan hotels through promoting them as low carbon foot print green hotels.

The main target groups of the project are small and medium scale tourist hotels as well as the key suppliers to the hotel industry in Sri Lanka.

Over a three year period the GSLH projects aims to get 350 hotels to improve their environmental performance through a reduction on an average of 20% for energy, waste and water consumption.

In terms of energy the hotel sector in Sri Lanka accounts for 4% to 5% of the national electricity demand and energy costs account for 18% of the total cost of operations in the hospitality sector.

The initial pilot project was spearheaded by The Responsible Tourism Partnership, Sri Lanka with an initial 39 hotels signing up. It was then decided to expand the initiative with financial assistance from the European Commission.

The project is a SWITCH-Asia programme with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce being the implementing agency and the following partners providing active support;

 With the end of Sri Lanka’s 26 year civil conflict, the creation of political stability after the presidential & parliamentary elections and the world economy showing signs of improvement this is a great time for the hospitality sector in Sri Lanka to focus on becoming more sustainable. After all business as usual is no longer a viable option, particularly in Sri Lanka where infrastructure is old and management systems are out of date.

This is a great project for Sri Lanka tourism and a fantastic step towards being a more responsible and sustainable tourism destination.

Published 27th April 2010

June 14, 2010 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

About AdLib Consulting

AdLib Consulting offers a range of private sector development and sustainable tourism services to businesses, organisations and government departments. Creating financial value while at the same time addressing environmental and social issues is at the core AdLib Consulting’s approach.

AdLib Consulting specialises in:

  • Business and Market Development Strategy
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Sustainability

AdLib Consulting works with:

  • Private Enterprise
  • International & Local NGO’s
  • Government
  • Multi lateral Agencies

For more information refer to

June 14, 2010 at 6:33 am Leave a comment

About Libby Owen-Edmunds

Libby Owen-Edmunds is a highly experienced Private Sector Development specialist and Sustainable Tourism professional.

She has lived and worked in Asia for 14 years being involved in business start-ups and business development for a range of private sector companies. Leveraging this private sector experience Libby adds enormous value to international development projects.

Her experience spans across a number of areas; market development, business consulting, local economic development, supporting & developing MSME’s, sustainable livelihoods, value chain analysis, PPPs, employability & entrepreneurship, destination management, environmental management systems (EMS), heritage and environmental conservation and marketing & communications.

She holds a masters in Responsible Tourism Management, is an associate of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism (ICRT) and an executive board member of the Responsible Tourism Partnership in Sri Lanka.

Libby is a regular public speaker at key industry events and is on a mission to ensure Asia’s private, development and government sectors are at the vanguard of sustainable tourism and systemic market development approaches.

For more information visit or see Libby at

June 14, 2010 at 6:08 am Leave a comment

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