Tourism organizations which are eligible to join the SME Division of SLEF
01. Hotels, Guest Houses, Home stays, Ecolodges operating with less than 20 rooms
02. Camping and Adventure Tour and Safari Tour Operators.
03. Restaurants covering less than 100 heads
04. Travel Agents manned by less than 05 employees
05. Small Private Transport Agencies with an ownership of less than 10 vehicles
06. All Community Based Ecotourism Enterprises (CBEs) operating in any part of the country
07. Any SME Service Providing Association such as spice gardens, indigenous ayurveda practices
08. Agro, farm and livestock tourism projects
09. Organic farming projects
10. Home-stay units for Ecotourism
11. Tourist Guide Lecturers (National, Chauffer and Area)
12. Heritage and Plantation Bungalows
What SLEF is planning to support SME Members within next twelve months?
• Establishing of Micro-Finance Credit Bank under the SLEF. The SLEF is already in touch with certain banks which are supporting the SME sector.
• Establish a Bank/Fund to assist Community Based/owned Tourism Projects in tourism generating areas
• Secure international donor support for SME members to upgrade their existing businesses
• Devise an intense and comprehensive market drive to promote SME Properties
• Facilitate SME tourism establishments to take part at national, regional and international conferences, workshops and seminars
• Offer cost-effective internationally accepted Eco Certification and Accreditation to the SME Sector in Sri Lanka
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How the SLEF SME Division could support Sri Lanka Tourism by mobilizing SME tourism Sector in Sri Lanka
1. SLEF will launch an island wide intense and effective programme to make the SME tourism sector aware of the importance of working hand in hand with Sri Lanka Tourism and get them registered with the SLTDA or Regional/Provincial Tourism Ministries
2. To achieve the above Objective, the SLEF would launch
- An effective awareness programmes for SMEs at provincial level combined with workshops, seminars, training modules
- Through the Awareness Programmes referred above, SLEF would emphasize them on the importance of adhering to the sustainable tourism development and offering of eco-friendly services to the visitors
- Enroll the SMEs in cost-effective but efficient Eco-Certification Programme
- SLEF has to print a Brochure explaining the SMEs on the importance of getting certified their business houses
- Once the above process is completed SLEF has to decide the Costs for Certification, Follow up Programmes and Auditing. (Establishment would not pay for Certification until they get a clear idea on why the Certification is important to develop their businesses)
Based on the above SLEF will prepare 'A SIMPLE USER'S GUIDE TO CERTIFICATION FOR SUSTAINABLE TOURISM AND ECOTOURISM', targeting the establishments referred above. Once this document is ready we will forward it to the Sri Lanka Tourism Board and get their approval to present the same to the establishments. Once the SLTB gives us the green light, SLEF will act as the 'Implementation and Certification Authority'. SLEF will target the SME sector for Certification.
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What is certification?
Certification is defined as "a voluntary procedure that assesses audits and gives written assurance that a facility, product, process or service meets specific standards. It awards a marketable logo to those that meet or exceed baseline standards.
A major problem for true ecotourism businesses is a practice called 'green washing'. This term refers to a business that presents itself as "sustainable", 'ecological', 'green', 'responsible', 'ecotourist', etc., when it doesn't comply with generally accepted standards, or worse, it is in contradiction with them. For those who are really trying to do their best to comply with all ecotourism standards, the businesses that falsely use the term 'ecotourism' compete unfairly and damage the credibility of the whole industry. One way of determining which businesses are truly practicing ecotourism (or sustainable tourism in other market segments) is certification.
Certification: an overview
Certification is a way of ensuring that an activity or a product meets certain standards. Within the tourist industry, different organizations have developed certification programs measuring different aspects of tourism: (a) quality, for the entire tourist industry, (b) sustainability, also for all sectors, and (c) ecotourism, for sustainable tourism that takes place in natural, protected, or fragile ecosystems, that may include indigenous communities, and that conforms to the definition above.
In recent years, negative environmental and social impacts of tourism have become obvious in many parts of the world, and some of these places have lost market position. As a result, some tourist industry leaders have started promoting the triple bottom line of sustainability as recommended business practice.
For tourism to survive over time, customer satisfaction can be likened to a three-legged stool: it will collapse if any of the legs is too weak. However, traditional tourism certification programs concentrated only on the first leg – quality, while governments have tended to regulate only the second leg – health, hygiene and safety. The third leg represents the triple bottom line. However the first "green" certification programs emphasized only part of the third leg – environmental impacts – without considering sociocultural and economic sustainability.
SLEF will try to establish minimum standards for the certification of sustainable tourism, eventually to be guaranteed by an accreditation body that would, in effect, certify the certifiers
Why certification is important?
Certification sets standards and helps distinguish genuine ecotourism and sustainable tourism businesses from others that make empty claims. This helps to protect the integrity of these concepts.
Certification is not an end in itself. It is one of a number of tools for motivating businesses and others to improve their environmental, social, and economic performance, while rewarding them for doing so. These rewards are sometimes tangible and sometimes not.
There are a number of other reasons why certification is important. They include:
Benefits for certified businesses
Certification helps businesses to improve themselves: going through a certification process is educational. Many certified businesses have stated that one of the greatest benefits of the certification process was to teach them the elements of sustainability in their operations and focus their attention on the changes they needed to make in their businesses. A better-operating business tends to be more efficient and to attract more clients.
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The core area for Certification of SMES
The SLEF Certification Programme will include a number of benchmarking guidelines to measure and monitor performance over time. These Guidelines will include;
• Do you invest in the area where your business operates? E.g. does any profit go back to the local community where you operate to help preserve and protect the area where your customers visit?
• Do you contribute to the preservation of resources which your company uses?
• Do you hire local staff? What sort of training do you have for your staff?
• Do you source your supplies locally to support your local community?
• Do you have a supply-chain policy for fair trade and equity?
• Do you design your facility to blend with the local physical environment?
• Do you take responsibility for damage to the environment by your potential use (e.g. use of water in a dry area, use of energy
• Do you undertaking for water, waste and energy efficient measures, etc. What conservation/reduction measures are you going to implement?
• Do you benchmark yourself against other companies in terms of environmental performance?
• Do you offer such alternatives to your guests? : Encourage your guest to use local transport
• Do you provide your staff with information, tips and training on how to be more environmentally responsible (which will save the company money at the same time)?
• Reduce, reuse, and recycle? How do you reduce waste, water and energy? Do you print on recycled paper, use biodegradable ink? Do you recycle in your office?
• Do you plant indigenous species of trees or shrubs in your areas? Do you try to conserve water by having dual flush toilets and other measures?
• Do you have an environmental policy which you adhere to?
• If you offer tours - what size are your tour groups? Travelling in groups of small numbers has less impact on the flora and fauna in an area than having hundreds of people visiting a destination at once.
• Do you make suggestions to your clients to purchase local products to support the local community?
• Do you engage in community relations activities to bring awareness to the local community and thereby accept visitors to their locality.
• Do you make sure you do not purchase products made from endangered species? Do you act responsibly and provide such guidance to your clients/guests e.g. pre/post departure information?
• Do you support any local projects e.g. donating a percentage of your profits to wildlife protection or social causes such as CSR Projects.
• Do you inform your clients of cultural or religious issues where they should be considerate of their hosts?
• Do you make sure than none of your suppliers exploit children or have break human rights conduct?
The SLEF initiated SME Division's Sustainability Framework will include a number of benchmarking tables to measure and monitor performance over time. These tables will include energy, waste, and water consumption, eco-friendly purchasing, and a Greenhouse Gas Footprint Tool.
As a bench mark for Certification of SMEs in Sri Lanka, the SLEF would strictly follow the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) guidelines developed by UNWTO.
SLEF is closely working with UNWTO in securing the required assistance and guidance for SLEF initiated Eco Certification Programme.
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