Skills to improve community-based tours and activities in Batticaloa and Ampara Districts
A pilot effort to contribute to the effort of promoting the Batticaloa and Ampara districts as tourist destinations through community-based tourism development while increasing the income of the poor communities
The Batticaloa and Ampara districts has vast potential for tourism, though, for certain reasons, tourism hasn’t grown much in the region even though the famous tour destinations Arugambay and Passikudah are located in these districts which could easily result in spill-over of tourist to other nearby areas. The project “Skills to improve community-based tours and activities”pilots an effort to fill that gap through developing new community-based tour activities in both of the districts. While this effort increases the income of the poor communities through tourism, it also contributes to promote these districts as tour destinations.
In both of these districts, the potential community group members are provided with required skills, as well as support in business promotion, marketing and business linkage supports to increase their income by selling identified tourism experiences in their places to the domestic and foreign tourists whilst conserving their own nature and respecting their way of life.
The project was implemented during the period November 2018 to May 2020 in eight divisional secretariat divisions of Batticaloa and Ampara districts with the funding support of the Australian Aid through Skills for Inclusive Growth (S4IG). Two hundred and forty two (240) people directly benefit from the project in both of the districts. Tour activities such as snorkeling and coral watching, lagoon tour, Kaffiringa performance with traditional food & drink, honey experience with Vedda community, rock hiking and ancient art performances are some of the interesting tour experiences this project created in Batticaloa and Ampara districts. These tours would allow visitors to connect closely with these communities, which also provide authentic experiences while allowing the revenue generated by tourism remaining in the poor rural areas.
This project comprises Vedda, Portuguese burghers, Sufi and other communities of these districts. The significance of the project is it created 15 new interesting tour opportunities with 23 supplementary tour activities, which would be an important contribution to the effort of promoting these districts as significant tour destinations. This project also contributes to the “Tourism Development Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020” of Sri Lanka.
When the Government and other tourism sector entities recognize these exciting tours and begin to support and promote them, it will boost the tourism development of these districts and the country. At the same time, the benefits of tourism will also reach the local poor villagers, which can also lead to a widely covered tourism development in the region. This model is expected to be replicated in other areas and districts in the future, where one project is already implemented in Trincomalee district.