August 27 is World Tourism Day. This year,  the theme is “promoting universal accessibility.” Groundviews decided to focus on sustainable tourism – and specifically, on how tourism development has impacted local communities.

Tourism is a vital driver of income to the local economy – with over a million tourists arriving in Sri Lanka from January to August 2016 alone. It also provides thousands of people with jobs, either directly or indirectly.

However, in some instances tourism development has come at the cost of homes and livelihoods, as Groundviews found when visiting these areas. This speaks to the need for a much more consultative and educative process with local communities, to ensure that tourism development benefits, and is accessible, to all.

Groundviews would like to extend thanks to the National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) and the many local organisers who facilitated both access to these areas and background information for this piece. This list also draws from Sri Lanka Campaign’s comprehensive list on who to avoid in their ethical tourism campaign.

The detailed story, created using Adobe Spark, can be accessed here or viewed below:

Paradise Lost

In the lead up to this piece, a series of sliders was created using Atavist, links to which can be found here for the Panama, Kankesanthurai, Pasikudah, Trincomalee and Kalpitiya areas.


A StoryMap was also published, accessible here, or viewable below:

If you enjoyed this article, you may find our previous articles on this topic interesting: Tourism in Sri Lanka: Catalyst for Peace and development or militarization and dispossession?” and “Tourism mega development in Sri Lanka results in human rights violations“. 

  • Janitha Rukmal

    The author of this article seems to have misinterpreted the entire
    UNWTO theme and has harped on the inaccessibility of certain tourist
    destinations instead of discussing the original thematic emphasis on
    making the tourism more accessible in terms of physical mobility,
    economic affordability and receptivity of those destinations.
    If the
    author carefully listened to the message of UNWTO secretary, the
    emphasis is on making tourism accessible for the travelers and tourists
    rather than unveiling the obscurity of certain areas which could be
    potential boomers for the travel and tourism industries as emphasized in
    this article as well as in their other presentations.
    Hence this
    theme is traveler-centric rather than destination-centric. I feel this
    entire article is reflecting a negative image based on a misguided

    • You are correct – the theme was universal accessibility in terms of physical mobility, but the theme also spoke of the need for the “the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all of us” – that includes the local residents, who often have no access to these spaces at all, and that also ties into economic affordability – especially since local tourists of a certain status are able to visit these places freely. Of course this is not directly related to the theme but was rather a subsection of a much wider topic which also warrants discussion – Raisa W

      • puniselva

        Raisa, thankssss.

  • puniselva

    Thank youuuuu, Raisa.
    Don’t people have rights to their livelihood-sustaining beaches over the rich tourist operators?
    Where do we draw the limit to tourism right please?