We at Eco Team aim to re-invent the tourism model in Sri Lanka by leading from the front to ensure that our business has long term benefit for our communities, the environment and our customers. The entire premise of Eco Team is to develop and promote ethical, responsible and sustainable tourism initiatives and products, thereby creating more jobs and greater income for our communities, whilst at the same time minimizing our impact on the environment and our planet’s resources. In order to work towards our objectives, we have structured our action plan into a framework which will evolve with time, and to be our guiding tool on our journey towards becoming a truly responsible Tour O perator in Sri Lanka. Enter Eco C-R-E-A-M (Community-Responsibility-Environment-Awareness-Management), and in this document we detail our vision, and explain where we are now in our long and never-ending journey to become the pioneering champion of Eco C-R-E-A-M.
We at Eco Team believe that the people, our community, have to be central to any strategy which involves protecting the environment and all communities. For this reason, we believe that the community and people at all levels, from our work places to rural farmers, have to be the most important asset. They will be the catalyst to drive this policy. The success of our vision depends on our ability to take our friends and colleagues and our working communities, with us on our journey.
We, more than any other Tour Operator in Sri Lanka, depend on the unspoilt and pristine outdoors of this magical island to run our business. Our wilderness and our eco systems combine to be our heartbeat, and protecting our most important resource is not only a responsibility but a necessity for our own existence as a Company. The most important resources of our eco system are in the hands of our communities, and as guardians and protectors as well as destroyers and abuses, man has done both for thousands of years. Poaching, deforestation, unsustainable farming methods and pesticide pollution of our waterways are just some of our challenges. This is especially true after many years of neglect and destruction of our vital infrastructure and communities, during the long years of civil war.
We will continue to support, enable and educate our communities in sustainable and responsible lifestyles. We aim to lead by example by providing tangible benefits to our partner communities by providing vital resources in capacity building. We will ensure that our products, and our services have minimum impact on our communities and their livelihoods.
What we are doing right now
- We recruit and train staff from the locality in which we work
- We buy locally produced goods and services
- We build products around local community knowledge of fauna, flora and farming methods
- We support community tourism initiatives by incorporating community lifestyles seamlessly into our programmes, such as picnic stops in village homes, and fishing with local fishing communities etc
- We work in capacity building in schools and communities, in entrepreneurship, knowledge farming and value additions
What is in the pipeline?
We plan to build a model village, recreating a sustainable model farm from an abandoned village close to our main operational hub in Belihul Oya. The village of ‘MulGama’ will be a resource centre, a working, living and operational farming community which will double up as a community tourism initiative. We aim to build the model farm in partnership with the pioneering agro forestry and organic farming organisation ‘Saareketha.’ The knowledge centre will train the community in sustainable and organic farming methods, creating a new generation of agricultural farming entrepreneurs. The centre will also be a new tourism model, enabling visitors to experience the effects of real time village living in breathtaking rural Sri Lanka, whilst also experiencing first-hand, the dangers and risks of rural lifestyles. We aim to leverage our working model in multiple locations within the next five years.
We are committed and working towards a community uplifting tourism model that will seamlessly fit into our communities. We will make our communities stakeholders of our success and our product. It is our pledge.
We are working towards becoming a truly responsible Tour Operator and we take our responsibilities seriously. We have Policies in place to improve our responsibilities towards Sri Lanka’s wildlife, environment, communities and our employees.
Wildlife and the Environment
- We educate and protect endangered species in line with the Red List issued by the ICUN.
- We actively discourage and educate our communities, as well as campaign to stop animal abuse in all forms, including use of circus animals and cruelty to animals relating to blood sports.
- We educate and invest in protecting our fauna and flora, and we support development projects, including environment education, wildlife conservation and reforestation. We work closely with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Foundation.
- We discourage and advocate not to collect, remove or cut any plant or parts of any plants (seeds, roots or leaves) by our customers, staff and communities.
- We participate in programmes that involve removal of invasive floral species, such as cactus and lantana, and set up our operations with scientists in and around the National Parks and participate in reforestation activities.
- We are planting an endemic tree in our Udawalawe land, located next to the Udawalawe National Park, for every visitor we serve.
We will avoid using products packaged in plastic. We are planning to become completely plastic-free within the next three years.
We already convert all our organic waste into compost at our main operational base River Garden. In addition, we help and advise our partner organizations to practice similar methods and encourage recycling policies.
We take all our waste out of the Parks for bio-treatment, and we collect and recycle glass bottles.
We reduce consumption of PET Bottled Water by using filtered or boiled water.
We are also thriving to become a paperless office.
Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle Policy on smalltickeritems
- We will continuously reduce the use of GPL in lamps
- We are introducing solar lamps for our Camps and wind-up LED lamps
- We use Kekuna Thel (oil) - a traditional, sustainable nut-oil extracted from a wild palm tree for use in the night torches in our Campsites
- We use recycled coconut shells for BBQ’s and campfires
- We are in the process of introducing solar fans and solar hot-water boilers to our Campsites
- We are also introducing solar charges for all mobile communication equipment in our Campsites
We conduct various awareness programs and campaigns in the community, in schools and, most importantly, we inform and educate our colleagues regularly. We initiated the “Tread Lightly Campaign - how you fit in?” to promote our vision and our strategy to the Team.
We have also created an informative pocket card which all our staff carry with them at all times.
Our campaign message
Measures to become energy efficient helps to reduce our impact on global warming
We are working towards being an equal opportunities employer and we have policies in place to ensure a sense of equality is built into our work environment. We are also working towards establishing robust anti-discriminatory practices throughout our organisation, as well as when we engage with external suppliers. Sri Lanka is emerging from a period when individuals of various ethnic origins became disenfranchised and marginalized. We are leading the way in promoting equality in our recruitment and selection polices, and also breaking barriers, especially faced by older people and ethnic oriented discrimination.
Eco team also manages its daily business in an ethical, accountable and responsible manner as well as works within the laws and the regularity framework of the land. We are fully licensed tourism related service provider and we are also members of several leading local and international organisations which monitor and govern our industry.
We play a leading role in the Sri Lanka Wildlife Foundation (SLWF), an organisation dedicated to wilderness conservation through education and promoting sustainable tourism initiatives. We are also initiating a research project to monitor the human-leopard conflict in the border villages around the Yala National Park.
We operate the world’s first carbon audited and carbon neutral luxury camping holidays. We calculate the entire operational carbon footprint of our product, and also calculate the exact carbon footprint of every visitor staying with us in our Luxury Camps. We then off-set the carbon footprint of our clients including our operational footprint using UN Certified Carbon Credits (CERs). We are committed to auditing and reducing our organisations overall carbon footprint, as well as to develop and promote low-carbon and carbon-neutral holidays, hence becoming the leader in the region to offer the choice of climate compliant holidays.
We are in the process of designing and building the greenest hotel in Sri Lanka. We will ensure the build and the operation have the lowest carbon footprint of any similar Hotel in the region. We will use reclaimed material as well as renewable energy sources, including an in-house mini-hydro to power our pioneering Hotel. We will use predominantly local material during the building phase, and then buy local, and employ local people to oversee and run our operation.
“Our conscious choice to adapt sustainable industry practices will influence
a responsible tourism model and pave the way for a healthy planet for our
“People - Planet – Profit”
Eco Team Vision ……..