Ethical Tourism Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most beautiful countries, and a booming tourist destination. It is also the site of some of the worst atrocities of the 21st century.

We are not opposed to people visiting Sri Lanka. Indeed, we think much good can come of such visits and that much harm could result if Sri Lanka is further isolated. But given the very disturbing human rights situation there, we don’t think anyone should make the decision to visit Sri Lanka lightly.

This campaign is designed to help you, the tourist, make an informed choice – to explain how your spending could contribute to a worsening of the human rights situation, or support human rights abusers, and to give advice about how you can mitigate against that impact by supporting ethical tourism in Sri Lanka.

Don’t holiday with war criminals or human rights abusers

The Sri Lankan armed forces were responsible for some of the worst human rights violations in Sri Lanka. They are now deeply embedded in the tourism industry and poised to benefit from your spending. We believe it is the duty of the ethical traveller to ensure they are not supported. This campaign is designed to help you identify just who to avoid, whilst offering some advice about some of the ethical alternatives on offer.

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Ethical tourism in Sri Lanka

Planning a holiday to Sri Lanka is in each case a personal decision and we don’t claim that any particular trip to Sri Lanka is ‘ethical’ or ‘unethical’. This is because we recognize that, on the one hand, no trip to Sri Lanka is without negative consequences – they all support the regime to one extent or another, even if it is just through airport taxes – and that on the other hand, only the most isolated of tourists could visit Sri Lanka without providing some sort of social benefit.

This site will help you understand both the negative and positive impacts of your trip and how, with thought and planning, you can better manage them.

What you see

Sri Lanka is a stunning island with beautiful sights, amazing landscapes, incredible wildlife, wonderful food and friendly people. It is not surprising that each year over a million people from all over the globe visit to experience the hospitality and sights on offer.

What you don’t

Many Sri Lankans live in fear. Sri Lanka is ranked as the second worst country for involuntary disappearances and one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.. There is strong evidence of widespread torture and murder, and land-rights abuses, with those in power above the law. Many people have been illegally detained, tortured or disappeared.

Militarisation (Credit: Seb Brixey-Williams)

These abuses, and the culture of impunity that permits them, are a result of the lack of accountability for what happened at the end of Sri Lanka’s long and bloody civil conflict. During the final stages of the war in 2009 an estimated 70,000 civilians were killed. There is credible evidence that Government forces deliberately shelled hospitals and designated no-fire zones, while the LTTE used civilians as human shields. Despite the recent change of regime many of the root causes of oppression remain, and the tourism industry remains part of the problem.