Tourism in protected areas in Sri Lanka has the potential to provide economic development as well as sources of the funding for maintaining the environmental values of national parks. However, for this to occur it is important tourism is managed in a sustainable manner. This paper uses a case study approach to examine the characteristics and problems associated with tourism in the most popular National Park in Sri Lanka–Ruhuna (Yala). It is clear there are a number of environmental effects arising from tourism that are degrading the natural values of the protected area resulting in lower amenity value for tourists. The problems associated with tourism are exacerbated by the lack of recognition given to the impacts resulting from religious tourists visiting the area and the lack of controls placed on their behaviour within the Park. Management has introduced various measures aimed at alleviating the problems caused by tourism, such as monthly meetings with tour operators and the provision of educational and interpretative material for local people. In addition, there are plans to construct a new road to reduce congestion currently experienced on the Park roads. However, unless funding is increased and more consideration is given to the religious tourists and their impacts, tourism in the Park will not be sustainable.
Buultjens, J, Ratnayake, I, Gnanapala, A & Aslam, M 2005, 'Tourism and its implications for management in Ruhuna National Park (Yala), Sri Lanka', Tourism Management, vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 733-742.
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