Local Employment and Environmental Awareness
We Only Employ Sri Lanka Tourist Board-licensed Guides
Tikalanka only employs Sri Lankan guides and drivers. The National Guide Lecturers and Chauffeur Guides who escort visitors around the island are all licensed and accredited by the Sri Lanka Tourist Board. Experienced guides for trekking, safaris and other specialist activities are hired locally and have extensive knowledge of their chosen area of expertise. This not only contributes directly to the local economy and provides much needed employment but also enhances the travellers’ experience of Sri Lanka through personal contact with the island’s people.
Tikalanka offers holidays to Sri Lanka and Maldives for individuals, couples, families or small groups of up to eight (8) persons. Our small group sizes allow us to use cars, small vans or jeeps when travelling around Sri Lanka and when visiting rural areas and National Parks, where use of larger vehicles in such areas often results in widening and blacktopping of rural paths for coach access. The resulting effect on the environment can be devastating. We feel that our small group sizes also lead to less impact both on the environment and the people that we visit as well as allowing for more supervision, advice and explanations with the high ratio of guides to travellers. The vehicles used for our tours are all regularly serviced to maintain safety and comfort, and to reduce pollution levels.
Tikalanka actively promotes small family-run guesthouses and homestays that employ local workers, or in the case of hotels, locally owned establishments. We are also developing village homestay projects in rural communities. This policy contributes directly to the local economy and provides local employment while enhancing the visitor’s experience of Sri Lanka.
Village homestays are an important future project for Tikalanka. They promote cultural exchange at a very personal level, provide income directly to the houses in which we stay, and enable local villages to fund community-led projects leading to clean water and electricity supplies, access improvement schemes, and healthcare facilities (see Community-led projects in Sri Lanka).
Embracing local cuisine is an essential part of any holiday if the visitor is to understand the country’s culture and savour its culinary delights. Tikalanka encourages travellers to eat at traditional restaurants, roadside eateries, street vendors and market stalls in order for them to enjoy and experience authentic Sri Lankan food. Again this contributes directly to the local economy and provides employment in the local food industry, as well as helping to counter the opinion that tourists only eat Western-style fast food.
We are not in favour of frequenting Western food outlets where they have replaced local food retailers, or Sri Lankan restaurants that are promoting Western-style food. Thankfully Sri Lanka has very few Western-style restaurants outside of Colombo and Tikalanka will continue to promote local Sri Lankan cuisine on all of its holidays.
Crafts, souvenirs and shopping
Local goods always make interesting souvenirs to take home for family and friends. Sri Lankan craftsmen are renowned for their jewellery making, metalwork, woodcarving and weaving. Tikalanka encourages visitors who would like to take souvenirs home with them to buy locally produced goods since this helps to preserve traditional crafts while at the same time contributing to the local economy.
Tikalanka is against illegal trade in endangered species and their products and therefore actively discourages travellers from buying such goods. For more information, visit the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) website at http://www.cites.org/. We also do not condone the use of wood that does not originate from well-managed plantations independently certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council or that is illegally logged from ancient forests. For more information, visit the Greenpeace website at http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/.
Reasonable quality clothes are sold for ‘rock-bottom’ prices at fashionable stores around Colombo. The reason for such low prices is due to the off-loading of seconds and excess stock from the powerful garment export industry in Sri Lanka, which allows retail stores to set prices well below those overseas. Garments account for more than 40% of Sri Lanka’s export income, mostly from sales to the USA (60%) and EU (35%), and the vast majority are manufactured by women working for very low salaries and living in cramped and unsanitary conditions. Tikalanka does not condone this practice, although we recognise that the workers themselves do not want foreign tourists to boycott the bargains, but want rights that are recognised in national labour laws and at International Labour Organisation conventions. For more information, visit the Transnationals Information Exchange-Asia website at http://www.tieasia.org.