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Biodiversity Sri Lanka will commemorate the International Day of Biological Diversity which falls on 22nd May each year, with an evening session on the UN designated theme for 2017: ‘BIODIVERSITY AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM’. This session will feature four relevant and illustrative case studies from Sri Lanka and the Asia region presented by Ms Maeve Nightingale of IUCN, Asia, environment and wildlife expert, Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, Mr. Madhura de Silva, President, Wildlife Conservation Society, Galle and Mr Ross Sanders, General Manager, Anantara Peace Haven, Tangalle, covering areas such as the significance of the coast around us and carrying capacity and biodiversity issues in our national protected areas. The event will be held on the 22nd of May from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. at the Auditorium of the Hatton National Bank, 22nd Floor, HNB Towers, Colombo 10, and is open to the general public.

Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue. Although

Sri Lanka is a small island, its biodiversity is significantly important both in a regional and global scale. The island has been declared as one of the 25 “biodiversity hotspots” of the world. Sri Lanka’s tourism is the country’s third largest foreign exchange earner and contributes a substantial percentage towards the GDP. In post-war Sri Lanka, tourist arrivals have seen a remarkable increase and there is a significant increase in investments in tourism as well as, infrastructure development through opening up of new tourist attractions.

The theme for this year is primarily about ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism and pursuing the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilization. This theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.