CITES CoP 18 in May will boost Sri Lanka nature tourism

Wednesday, 10 April 2019 00:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Kasun Abeynayaka

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The Parties to CITES are collectively referred to as the Conference of the Parties. Every two to three years, the Conference of the Parties meets to review the implementation of the Convention. These meetings last for about two weeks and are usually hosted by one of the Parties.

CITES is a multi-lateral treaty between governments for protecting the survival of species in the wild, especially, endangered plants and animals and to counter international trade threat. The Conference of the parties to the treaty meets periodically to review the implementation of the Convention and Sri Lanka is being honoured with the hosting of the next conference on the dates mentioned below.

The 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will be scheduled to be held from 23 May to 3 June 2019 at the BMICH in Colombo, with over 3,000 foreign delegates and media expected to participate.


So Sri Lanka

The global event will raise Sri Lanka’s profile internationally and will showcase to the world our own rich flora and fauna and diverse attractions of tourism value, boosting our country.



Sri Lanka is earning a reputation for whale and dolphin watching in the recent past. Mirissa. Trincomalee and Kalpitiya are the three hot spots on whale and dolphins. It is combination of blue and sperm whales, dolphins and turtles can be seen in and around those three destinations. November to April is the peak season for whale and dolphin watching. 

There are standards well accepted protocols for sustainable vessel-based whale watching in the world. Similarly, there are well tested commercial permitting systems around the globe that regulate operating procedures, animal protection, vessel quality and safety. There should be a declared whale watching season to prevent off season voyages in unfavourable conditions. Incentives for operators to achieve ecotourism certification should also be introduced 

Wildlife safari is significant potential to broaden the range of experiences offered and provide significant strength to the country. Natural assets are well distributed around the islands with five Ramsar wetlands and many areas of high environmental value to the country

Sri Lanka has the second highest coverage of protected areas in Asia, with the Department of wildlife conservation managing nearly 90 natural areas. The Forest Department manages more than 500 areas, many with high levels of biodiversity, endemism and values to the country.

Sri Lanka possesses significant potential to offer excellent ecotourism and interpretation around


Large charismatic species

Endemic species and high levels of terrestrial and marine biodiversity 

National parks and wildlife sites are core attraction for visitors to Sri Lanka and play a vital role in the tourism industry. Both marine and terrestrial are critical competitive advantage.


Sri Lanka tourism in the recent past

After 2009 Tourism is sounded right mainly with peace, perfect investment climate and most importantly political stability coupled with proper infrastructure such as aviation and shipping facilities, electricity, telecommunication, transportation, etc. Hence tourism is the number three contributor to the national economy in terms of Foreign Exchange Earnings. 

Tourism provided 3.8% of total foreign exchange earnings in 2010. It was the 5th contributor to Gross Domestic Production (GDP) in the same year. Tourism got drastic improvement 3.8% to 14.8% between year 2010 and year 2018. Tourism has continued to contribute majorly to the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) from year 2012. It is significant to the tourism sector as it was recorded 7.9% Total Foreign Exchange Earnings with the rank of number four in 2013. Year 2015 to 2019 tourism maintains the stability to contribute to GDP as the number three ranked contribution whilst it got significantly improved 10.2% to 14.8% in Foreign Exchange Earnings during this period as per Central Bank Report.


Biodiversity hotspot

As per Conservation International (CI), Sri Lanka is one of 34 ‘biodiversity hotspots’ of in the world, with a large proportion of endemic species and a high dependence on its biodiversity for tourism and other social and economic activities

Despite its small size Sri Lanka boasts of one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world.

Of the 106 species of mammals found in Sri Lanka.: the wildlife enthusiast, generally focuses his/her attention on. Sri Lankan Elephants, Sloth bears, Leopards, Sambars 

Meanwhile the sea around Sri Lanka are home to large families of cetaceans including mighty blue whales, sperm whales and dolphins. 

Altogether 34 species of cetaceans rule the waters surrounding the country, making it one of the best locations for whale and dolphin watching. 

Despite the mighty elephants and rare amphibians found in the country birds are the glory of the Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Boasting nearly 510 bird species of which 33 are endemic.

Although less celebrated, Sri Lanka has one of the richest diversity of amphibians in the world, containing over 119 species of amphibians of over 106 of which are endemic. The country has long claimed to have the highest amphibian species density in the world.


Nature tourism

Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for nature tourism. Year around the climate head to the beach. Feel and run to the Ocean to watch waves to relax, seeing dolphins and whales. Rise with sun to explore flock of birds. Head to the wellness trough tranquillity of natural sounds deep in to the jungle and explore the mangroves.


Brand alignment and content

The content and alignment of the brand should be published in the 100 international media who is expected for CITES CoP 18 facilitates for brand alignment and content. Operate Communication and Media Relations supports the Sri Lanka Tourism in the globe. The country focuses on storytelling, consistent baseline messaging as Sri Lanka is a fauna and flora destination and embrace the authenticity. Also all media crews should emphasised on tailor-made itinerary, VIP programs, best practices and blogs.


Boost Sri Lanka nature tourism in Sri Lanka

There is also considerable potential for Sri Lanka to become the hub for regional and international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora with the nations branding activities must become aware of the array of trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora activities. 

CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction from the sea species covered by the convention has to be authorised through a licensing system. Each party to the convention must designate one more management authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more scientific authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species

So Majestic, So Wild, So Welcoming So Sri Lanka

(The writer is the Secretary General, Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference, Department of Economics, University of Colombo.)