Development for tourism in some parts of Sri Lanka is a speeding train set on a collision course with the basic human rights of some of the island’s most vulnerable communities. The country recorded a 16.7% increase in foreign arrivals from 2015 to 2016 and new properties continuously spring up around the island. However, the hidden cost of this growing industry is completely hidden by streams of photographs of pristine landscapes and smiling locals, quintessentials of the #islandlife.
Travels along the East coast, the Jaffna peninsula and the islands of the North-West uncovered a long list of dark secrets that don’t make their way to Sri Lanka Tourist Board material, travel brochures or the forefront of discussion due to the involvement of the military or political influence in the seizing of lands and deprivation of livelihood to communities that are already struggling to make ends meet.
This feature was created after travels to these areas and conversations with the affected communities. We are aware that this issue is far more widespread than these locations and consider readers to not view this as an exhaustive list but an opener to an important dialogue that needs to take place for equal access to progress.
The message of this feature, released to coincide with World Tourism Day, is not to tell people to refrain from visiting Sri Lanka or from exploring the country but to do so responsibly, with a knowledge of the community struggles that the facades of development hide so that they will be able to contribute to the economy in a way that it benefits those who need it most.
The feature was created using Atavist and can be viewed in full here.