Why did you choose to work for Khiri and what do you like the most about it?
It was purely by luck that I landed this golden opportunity of working for Khiri Travel representing my beautiful destination – Sri Lanka! I am passionate about travel so coupling it up with my past experience in the trade plus the Khiri way of tourism – specializing through signature tour programs did the trick.
What I like the most about Khiri Travel is their dynamic and constant flow of travel experiences which is crafted around sustainable tourism.
What does authentic, local travel mean to you?
Authentic, local travel to me personally means moving away from visiting traditional touristic sites and connecting more with the localities of the country. Experiencing local culture and cuisine at first hand experiences through interacting with friendly local families.
In travelling perspectives, although knowing that the public transport infrastructure of Sri Lanka is very underdeveloped when compared to other countries around the world, it is the norm in Sri Lanka. Getting on board a train with the locals would be a fabulous way to see Sri Lanka’s hill villages and tea country and see the daily lives of the local people, and the scenic views will surely make you come back again.
Getting a glimpse of the real life – tourism is not only about luxury and being pampered. Having an authentic experience gives you a new perspective to life.
How can visitors positively affect the local people by traveling in a sustainable way?
Sustainable Travel is the future of Travel. Sri Lanka being among one of the developing economies in Asia, there is so much scope among the local communities specially in the rural regions where tourism can do great wonders for such communities by maintaining cultural integrity. Simple suggestions, which can be instituted can make a great difference. You can always book a culinary tour at your luxury resort, get escorted by your chef to the local market come back to the hotel and enjoy a fine dining, BUT you can also go local, meet a friendly local family who is excited to show off their culinary skills.
A great opportunity to see the most authentic culture in Sri Lanka – the life of a housewife! This will directly help improve the local living standards while not having a huge impact on changing the local way.
What is the biggest challenge for sustainable tourism in Sri Lanka today?
Sri Lanka still follows the traditional ways of tourism and the concept of ‘Sustainable Tourism’ is still a new concept. The mindset towards tourism is mainly as a mode of income to the economy, however when considering the broader picture, developing innovative ideas for activities which revolve around local families and which will have favorable impacts on the environment
The challenge is that we are yet to get there!
What is your most memorable travel story?
Well I have many stories to tell, every single time that I have hopped on a train or bus with a couple of friends we have always ended up with many exciting stories to tell. I am not a big planner, but more of a “do as I go” type.
The best was when I explored the Sinharaja Rainforest with a couple of colleagues from office. My passion is exploring off the beaten path! Love to trek but hate leeches. It was quiet a battle out there in the wetlands with so many creepy crawler out there. But just that memory of being in the wild, and all of those beautiful endemic birds that I saw and not to mention the fresh footsteps of a wild elephant who had just crossed our trekking path, lucky for us we did not meet him again on our way! Crossing rivers on broken and rusty bridges just added on more excitement to the trek. It felt like I was living on of those episodes from the TV series – Lost!