[HopTour Sri Lanka] EcoWave – responsible business in tourism – it is possible! [1/2]

Every day you make decisions that affect the world

During travelling in Asia, it’s easy to observe and notice human impact for the environment. Mountains of the rubbish, rainforest burning, polluted water, dams on rivers, smog, animals as mascots… Enough? Every day we make decisions, also on holidays or when we travel. Decisions from where we will sleep, through the menus and excursions. ON OUR DECISIONS DEPEND THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET. So it is!!! At one time my dream was to see the tigers in Thailand. Touch them; take them a pictures from close… I fulfilled it and today my dream turned into a remorse. Never again!

Want to change something? You don’t know where to start? Maybe you can start with using services of responsible companies. Eco does not have to mean more expensive! In Sri Lanka we spent 3 days with EcoWave. It was wonderful!

EcoWave – Doing Good Doing Green - www.ecowave.lk

When we arrive to Sri Lanka we searched for some cooking class and we found EcoWave thanks to www.visit.org . We decided to stay few days in Arugambe, on the east coast of the island, and get to know the company closer to being declared as responsible and sustainable!

EcoWave is a company that implements a social mission. Its business is distributed in several ways but in one direction. In a very simplistic way, what does EcoWave do? :

  • The company's goal is to sell organic spices in Sri Lanka and overseas markets.
  • The mission of the company is to build a network of organic farms and to promote this trend among farmers using pesticides. Eco Wave does this by trainings - starting with meetings with farmers who use chemical plant protection, trainers educate them how they affect the environment. The next step is to show that by using natural methods they can achieve equally good results. Finally EcoWave helps in the transition from chemical to organic solutions. Twice a week EcoWave organizes a car which collects organic vegetables and fruits for sale to local hotels, shops and individual consumers.
  • The motivator (perhaps the strongest) is tourism. By showing interest in organic products EcoWave developed an ideal incentive system among farmers. Tourist can see by themselves how the vegetables grow on the sand, without the use of chemistry. On these farms there is also possibility to camping on the beach and to try regional cuisine. Also here, after the sunrise you can see wild elephants wandering over vast lagoons in the area.
    Apart from that, EcoWave organize Pottuvil Lagoon trips and cooking classes.
  • Moreover, EcoWave has developed a whole network of contacts. They work with a numbers of small organization and individuals who handle handicrafts, most of the time using recycled materials. Rice&carry is only one example. Selling this products in the outlets they support many artisans.

We had a chance to ask Najeem I.L.M., GM of EcoWave, what it means to manage responsible company.
EcoWave uses several terms to define the business as responsible.
Here they are: (source: www.ecowave.lk )

Responsibility - to conduct its activities in a financially,
environmentally and socially responsible way;
Equity– to guarantee that all the financial transactions and the procurement
procedures will be developed in the interest of the final beneficiaries;
Accountability - to use the resources efficiently, achieving measurable results
and being accountable to supporters, partners, and most of all, small-scale farmers;
Participation – to ensure the high involvement of the farmers
in decision-making, fostering internal democracy and shared responsibility;
Integrity - to live to the highest standards of personal honesty
and behavior, always acting in the best interests of the rural communities;
Reciprocity – to promote the cooperation among similar entities within Sri Lanka
and on an international level on cooperation program, from a reciprocity approach that ensures
a real exchange of experiences and expertise at all levels;
Equality – to promote equal opportunities for all the ethnic
and religious groups, and with disregard of gender, sexual orientation, age group.

The ecotourism trend increasingly is being treated by many companies as a marketing component. This is particularly seeing in the travel agencies market. Billboards and ECO ads are smashing the eyes, especially in these tourist destinations. Before you decide to use the services of such a company, we encourage you to make a small test 🙂

From our experience even a small talk in the office is very often enough to know, if the company is doing the job in the eco way. The way how the employees answer the questions and their ability to talk easily about the details, can show us a lot. Most of the time we ask about:

  • How many people will share with us the experience?
  • If the food is planned, from where it comes from and who prepared it?
  • If and how our excursion affect local communities?
  • What kind of transportation will be used?
  • How the company is managing the waste generated during the excursion? What the company is doing to reduce the waste?

What about you? Did you even think that you have a choice and your decision has big impact for many people?

In the second part of the article we will tell you about two activities organized by EcoWave – excursion in Pottuvil Lagoone and Cooking Class.

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