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Gunatilake Tantrigama
University of Sri Jayewardenepura
(Sri Lanka)

Abstract: As worldwide tourist arrivals in- clear waters, exotic landscapes, coral reefs,
crease, a significant share seek the pleasure of coral fish, and other wildlife which attract
tropical beach holidaying particularly in the tourists particularly interested in beach
Asia/Pacific Region. This leads to pressure on holidays (Smith, 1994). The governments
coastal environmental resources resulting from recognize this potential and are continuing
the attempts to accommodate increased arrivals. with their attempts to promote tourism as a
Various studies carried out recently have noted means of generating foreign exchange and
that unplanned and uncoordinated mass tourism employment opportunities, and for expand-
in the Asia/Pacific Region have caused degrada- ing economic activities. This outward look-
tion of coastal environmental resources which in ing policy will certainly attract more tour-
turn threaten the sustainability of tourism in the ists, out of which a significant part will seek
long run. Further expansion of tourism will in- beach holidays. However, most of the sites
evitably lead to further degradation and down- that they have to offer are already faced
turn of the benefits generated through tourism with problems resulting from ad hoc tour-
activities in these sites. Therefore, the need for ism development and improper manage-
management of coastal environmental resources
ment of resources. Further pressure without
to obtain the maximum benefits in the long run
paying attention to the proper management
with minimum harmful effects has become a key
of resources, will only aggravate the existing
issue to be addressed by planners, policy makers,
problems and the result will be further deg-
professionals, businessmen as well as academics.
radation of natural environmental resources.
This paper examines the implications of tourism
in relation to Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka and Ca- If the peacefulness and natural beauty is
langute in the Goa State of India which are lost, tourism in such sites will not be sus-
known to be two of the most popular coastal tainable and these countries will no longer
tourism sites in Asia. These two sites also are the be able to promote their coastal sites for
victims of unplanned and ad hoc development of beach holidays. This calls for more attention
coastal tourism. The paper aims at identifying to be paid to the conservation aspects of the
key management issues and proposes a strategy attractive sites while making attempts to
for the development of coastal areas which are promote more tourist arrivals.
subject to adverse ecological, environmental,
physical, economic and socio-cultural implica- The present paper is an attempt to investi-
tions of tourism. gate the problems existing particularly in
Asian coastal tourism sites and identify is-
Keywords: Tourism Carrying Capacity, Sus- sues relating to the proper management of
tainable Coastal Tourism, Coastal Resource such sites to ensure sustainable tourism. The
Management, Special Area Management degree and the permissible limits of tourism
development have been examined using the
“carrying capacity” concept. The paper fo-
Introduction cuses on two coastal tourism sites as case
studies - Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka and Ca-
The Asian region is endowed with extensive langute, Goa, India. Hikkaduwa is the most
coastal resources such as sandy beaches, popular coastal tourism site in Sri Lanka
92 Tantrigama

and Calangute is popularly known as the there are a variety of other attractions to
“Queen of Beaches”. These two sites have supplement the Marine Sanctuary. These
undergone similar paces of tourism devel- are: warm sunny climate, clear blue sea,
opment and become victims of mass- sandy beaches, shopping local handicrafts,
tourism and ad hoc tourism development. opportunities for diving, surfing and snor-
The peaceful environment and natural keling, interaction with friendly and helpful
beauty have already been affected and people, indigenous cultural performances
coastal resources are under threat by over etc.
development of tourism infrastructure. The
resident population looks at tourism with Hikkaduwa is visited by both foreign and
suspicion as it has brought more disadvan- domestic tourists. German nationals are the
tages than advantages to the local commu- most prominent foreign tourist category in
nity. The two sites also have historical and Hikkaduwa. Foreign tourists usually come
cultural links. The Western coastal belt of Sri for long beach holidays and the length of
Lanka where Hikkaduwa is located had stay is approximately 20 days which is
been under rule by the Portuguese in the greater than the national average which is
16th Century. The state of Goa in which Ca- approximately 10 days. The season starts for
langute is located had been a Portuguese foreign tourists in November and ends in
colony until the 1960s. While making a de- March which coincides with the winter sea-
tailed analysis of problems of resource man- son of the Western countries. Domestic tour-
agement in relation to the two sites, a com- ists are mainly day visitors to the Marine
parative assessment is carried out to arrive Sanctuary. Because their stay in Hikkaduwa
at more appropriate development strategies is limited to a few hours, their economic im-
in relation to other similar coastal tourism pact is not as significant as in the case of for-
sites in the region. eign tourists. The tourism business is com-
prised of accommodation, restaurants, rec-
The data for the study were collected from reation facilities and tourist shops. How-
primary sources as well as from secondary ever, there are two types of establishments:
sources. Primary data collection was based formal establishments and informal estab-
on field investigations, personal interviews lishments (Tantrigama, 1994). The formal
and questionnaire surveys. Four separate establishments are properly registered with
questionnaires were adopted to survey: (i) the tourism and local authorities and mainly
Foreign Tourists (ii) Domestic Tourists, (iii) comprise hotels which are located at the
Business community, and (vi) Local resi- south end of Hikkaduwa Beach. The north
dents. In order to make the comparative part of the coast is comprised of a large
analysis possible, attempts have been made number of guest houses, restaurants and
to adopt the same questionnaires in both shops which in most cases are run without
sites. proper licenses and are therefore classified
as informal establishments. Scale-wise also,
informal establishments are small when
Tourism in Hikkaduwa compared with formal establishments.
However, these informal establishments
Hikkaduwa is situated approximately 100 play a major role by providing meals and
km from Colombo - the capital of Sri Lanka accommodation facilities, and other ameni-
and about 150 km from the Katunayaka In- ties such as shopping, sports, recreation etc.
ternational Airport. The total length of the at significantly lower prices than the formal
beach is about four km. The Marine Sanctu- establishments. For this reason, these infor-
ary which is endowed with beautiful coral mal establishments have been able to satisfy
reefs and marine life is the focal point of the the needs of foreign tourists who seek
tourist attraction of Hikkaduwa (CRMP, longer stays at a relatively lower cost (Tan-
1994). As revealed by questionnaire surveys, trigama and White, 1994).
Tantrigama 93

Implications of tourism in tourists have voiced negative feelings about

Hikkaduwa traffic congestion and noise which disturbs
the quiet environment and the peacefulness
of the area. There are incidents of traffic
The adverse implications caused by tourism
accidents every year where in some cases
in Hikkaduwa are summarized below:
tourists have been knocked-down by
speeding vehicles.
1. Degradation of the coral reef.
This is caused by a number factors. The 4. Conflicts among different user groups.
main contributory factor is the use of glass
The recent survey does not support the hy-
bottom boats to view the corals and coral
pothesis of the existence of a conflict situa-
fish by tourists. The over loaded boats touch
tion between tourists and other groups
and damage the top of the coral. In addition,
such as the business sector and residents.
to have a closer look at the corals some tour-
However, conflicts among businessmen
ists are inclined to jump out of the boats
themselves and between residents and
thus causing damage to the coral reef. There
businessmen is evident. This is due to a
are fishing boats anchored within the Sanc-
number of reasons. Residents find tourism
tuary which cross the coral reef every day.
to be a "white elephant" of little or no bene-
They usually clean the boat and throw gaso-
fit to the local inhabitants. It has affected
line and oil discharges in the sea which
the social fabric and traditional lifestyle of
cause harmful effects on the coral and ma-
the local population. Although the people
rine life in the Sanctuary. The demand cre-
who are employed in tourism and related
ated by tourists and other parties for corals
activities appreciate the benefits of tourism,
and beautiful fish found in the Sanctuary
ordinary citizens have no positive opinion
has resulted in the breaking of corals and
about the way tourism is operated in their
catching coral fish for illegal trade.
area. Conflicts among tourism businesses
are mainly a result of competition among
2. Solid waste and sewerage disposal.
them for business. There is no cooperation
Due to the ad hoc development that took at all among them on pricing and other
place in tourism business establishments business promotion policies.
there is no proper systems of solid waste
and sewerage disposal. These tourism estab- 5. Garbage dispersal and environmental
lishments use their limited premises or the pollution.
beach attached to them to discharge the
Garbage dispersal and pollution of the en-
solid waste and sewerage. As these tourism
vironment are done by all parties concerned
establishments are located very near to the
in varied proportions. The tourists - both
coastal water, such discharges to the ground
foreign and domestic, the establishments,
through septic tanks and pits contaminate
the general public, are all responsible for
the groundwater, thereby causing sea water
littering items such as plastic bottles, paper
pollution. Some establishments discharge
bags and other wastes on the road and
the sewerage through pipes extended to the
beaches. In addition, the garbage collection
sea by which the sea water is directly pol-
system of the local authority is not efficient
luted with effluents.
enough to keep the roads and beaches free
from garbage.
3. Traffic congestion, noise and speeding
The highway between Colombo and Matara
Analysis of Tourism Carrying
(capital of the Southern Province) goes
through the tourism area of Hikkaduwa. Capacity in Hikkaduwa
This road is narrow and usually used by all
types of vehicles and also pedestrians. The The concept of “carrying capacity” is used
in a variety of subjects to assess the permis-
94 Tantrigama

sible limits of development. In the context Hikkaduwa while the present number of
of tourism it refers to the level of visitor use arrivals is estimated to be approximately
an area can accommodate with high levels 15,000 (1996). Therefore, there is a capacity
of satisfaction for visitors and least impacts to further increase the number of arrivals to
on resources (WTO, 1992). The present Hikkaduwa.
analysis focuses on three aspects, namely:
(i) ecological, (ii) physical and (iii) envi-
ronmental carrying capacities (Tantrigama, Tourism in Calangute
1998). In the context of ecological carrying
capacity of Hikkaduwa, what has been Calangute is located approximately 16 km
taken into consideration is mainly the im- North of Panaji - capital of the state of Goa,
pact of tourism on the coral reef and marine India. It is the most popular beach in India
life. Physical carrying capacity refers to the and known to be one of the top ten bathing
availability of infrastructure and space for beaches in the world. It is visited by both
development. In assessing the environ- foreign and Indian (domestic) tourists.
mental carrying capacity the use of the Unlike at Hikkaduwa, length of stay of do-
beach by tourists and its implications were mestic tourists may not necessarily be lim-
taken into consideration. ited to a few hours. There are Indians origi-
nating from other states of India who come
Ecological Carrying Capacity to spend their holidays in Goan beaches
The assessment of ecological carrying capac- where a significant number select Calangute
ity revealed that the maximum number of for their stay. British nationals are the most
tourists allowed in glass bottom boats on the prominent among foreign tourists arriving
basis of 4 boats at a time with 9 adults or 12 in Calangute. The season falls between 1st
school children is approximately 38 adults October and 16th June while 20th December
or 48 children. The maximum number of to 5th January is considered to be high sea-
tourists to engage in snorkeling on the basis son (peak season). The off season is between
of allowing one third of the area for snorkel- 16th June to 1st October. The tourism facili-
ing is 86 persons at a time. Similarly the ties are spread in the countryside as well as
maximum number of tourists to engage in along the coast. There is no further space
sea bathing without damaging the coral or found in coastal area for providing accom-
marine life is expected to be 104 persons at a modation and other facilities.

Physical Carrying Capacity Implications of Tourism in

A detailed analysis of physical carrying ca- Calangute
pacity is not required to assess the level of
development as it is obvious that there are Calangute is adversely affected by a series of
no adequate infrastructure or additional implications resulting from mass tourism
space left to support further physical devel- and unplanned tourism development. The
opment of the tourism facilities in the area. most visible implications are summarized
below: (Wilson, 1997)
Environmental Carrying Capacity
With regard to environmental carrying ca- 1. Illegal constructions along the coast.
pacity, it is estimated that the maximum There is a regulation to leave a minimum of
number of tourists allowable on the beach is 200 meters from the high tide sea level
expected to be 1,500 at any point of time. without any constructions. This regulation is
usually violated. Sand dunes, which act as a
The carrying capacity analysis revealed that natural protection against sea erosion are
there is a potential for accommodating removed for development of tourism facili-
30,000 foreign tourists per peak season in ties such as hotels, resorts etc. This has al-
Tantrigama 95

ready affected the natural coast as well as created by the increasing number of tourism
the scenic beauty of the area. As the ho- establishments. The use of such basic ameni-
tels/guest houses and other facilities are ties by residents has been severely affected
constructed very close to the sea, they dis- by this. Unavailability of power supply dur-
charge sewerage and other effluents to pits ing most of the peak hours is a common
and septic tanks by which the underground phenomenon in Calangute. Tourism busi-
water is contaminated. This again pollutes nessmen manage to obtain such services by
the seawater as it leaks out to the coast. various means. Ordinary citizens are help-
Over-development of tourism establish- less in this regard.
ments along the coast has also limited the
access to the beach by the resident popula- 5. Road traffic and congestion.
tion. Attempts by property developers to This is a result of the large number of vehi-
buy up the remaining coastal strip have cles found particularly during the peak sea-
caused intimidation of villagers out of their son. This creates congestion along the roads
homes. and has affected the peace and quiet of the
2. Danger of exhausting the underground wa-
ter through over-use. 6. Increasing prices of food-stuff and other
The present public water supply is inade- basic items due to heavy demand created by
quate to meet the demand created by the the tourism establishment.
large number of tourism establishments in This is a frequent complaint of residents.
the area. They have wells constructed on Not only items such as fish, vegetable and
their premises and underground water is fruits, but land prices and rents have also
used and discharged back to the ground. Re- increased excessively due to the excess de-
use of contaminated water creates a lot of mand created by tourists and tourism estab-
health hazards and other implications to the lishments. There is no compensatory reve-
tourists and to the residents of the area. nue generation for the benefit of local resi-
dents to increase their affordability. This has
3. Pollution by garbage and sewerage disposal. caused the standard of living of local resi-
Tourism establishments are located in close dents to go down as their cost of living is
proximity with the houses of villagers. going up with the development of tourism.
There is no concern by tourism businessmen
regarding the proper disposal of garbage 7. Socio-cultural effects.
and sewerage. In most of the cases, sewer- This is a very crucial issue to be addressed
age is diverted to the adjoining canals which as it has multiple impacts on the traditional
flow along the village, polluting the entire socio-cultural life style of the resident popu-
area. The problem of mosquitoes has now lation. From the survey carried out among
become a serious threat to the health of the the resident population, a significant num-
resident population (D'Souza, 1997). This ber of the youth population turns to drug
practice is not acceptable at all and is a se- trade with foreign counterparts as a result
vere injustice from the villagers' point of they themselves become addicted to drug
view. There is no proper system of garbage use and other evil habits. The school-going
disposal and items like plastic bottles and child population is affected as tourism es-
food discharges are found strewn every tablishments, and liquor shops are situated
where. near the schools. Partial nudism is prevalent
in the area which also has adverse social
4. Inadequacy of public infrastructure due to implications in a country like India.
overuse by tourism establishments.
The infrastructure facilities such as water
supply, electricity, and communication are
not planned to cater to the large demand
96 Tantrigama

Analysis of Tourism Carrying Issues in Coastal Resource

Capacity in Calangute Management

An attempt has been made to apply the It is evident that both Hikkaduwa and Ca-
above three carrying capacity concepts i.e, langute have potential for further expanding
ecological, physical and environmental, to tourism activities provided that care is taken
tourism in Calangute too. But unlike in Hik- to make sure that resources are properly
kaduwa, there are no ecological resources managed to minimize harmful effects. Al-
such as coral or coral fish populations in though there are differences between the
Calangute. Therefore, the carrying capacity tourism activities in Hikkaduwa and Ca-
analysis is limited to physical and environ- langute, the following management issues
mental aspects in the case of tourism in Ca- are common in both sites.
1. Adverse impacts caused by tourism.
Physical Carrying Capacity Because of the unplanned nature of tourism
There are various occasions when the Goa development, a series of adverse ecological,
tourism authorities have been subject to se- environmental, physical, economic and
vere criticism for adopting a lenient policy socio-cultural impacts are found in these
in granting permission for new hotel and sites. Physical carrying capacity limits have
resort constructions in the Calangute area already been exceeded.
(Ecoforum, 1993). There is no proper as-
sessment of the requirement for new devel- 2. Conflicts among different user groups.
opments which has led to overuse of the
These coastal tourism sites are characterized
existing infrastructure which are meant to
by multiple resources and user groups.
cater to a small population. There is no need
These resources are interconnected and the
of any quantitative analysis to confirm that
use of one will have an impact on the other.
the physical carrying capacity of Calangute
This has inevitably led to conflicts among
is exceeded.
different user groups. For example, the
beach used by traditional fishers is now en-
Environmental Carrying Capacity
croached upon by hoteliers. This occasion-
With reasonable assumptions regarding ally leads to conflicting situations. Tourism
beach space per tourist, it has been esti- has to be considered as only one activity
mated that the maximum allowable number among a variety of activities existing at
of tourists at any given point of time in Ca- these sites.
langute beach is approximately 9,600 tour-
ists. 3. Low level of revenue generation from villag-
ers' point of view.
This leads to the conclusion that the total
The tourist business sector is owned by ho-
number of foreign tourist arrivals to be
tel groups and individuals originating from
38,400 and domestic tourists arrivals to be
outside the area. A significant part of the
460,800 per year. As the estimated number
inputs of tourism establishments are pur-
of current foreign tourists is approximately
chased from outside the area. A very minor
21,340 and domestic tourists is 240,000
percentage of employees are hired from the
(1996), there is still a potential for increasing
local community. Because of these reasons,
the number of both foreign and domestic
the financial and other benefits emanating
tourists arrivals to Calangute.
from among the tourism business to the lo-
cal community are very low.
Tantrigama 97

4. Multiplicity of authorities and able development involves management of

organizations. all resources in such a way that economic,
Because of the variety of overlapping func- social and aesthetic needs are fulfilled while
tions and elements at these sites, there are maintaining the cultural integrity, essential
numerous different organizations with re- ecological processes, biological diversity and
sponsibilities for managing and advising on life support systems.
these functions. For example, at Hikkaduwa,
the marine habitat is under the purview of That coastal tourism should be based on the
the Department of Wildlife Conservation principle of sustainable development has
while the adjoining beach is controlled by recently been recognized in the Bagio Reso-
the Coast Conservation Department. Tour- lution on Coastal Resources Management
ism establishments situated along the same (Wong, 1998). Efforts are being made world
beach are controlled by the Ceylon Tourist wide to apply the concept of "Integrated
Board. It has been found to be difficult Coastal Management" (ICM) to achieve the
sometimes to reconcile different local, re- sustainability of development activities un-
gional and national level organizations in an dertaken in coastal zones. Although ICM
attempt to design and implement suitable can be defined in different perspectives,
management policies; agreement exists among coastal manage-
ment specialists that ICM efforts must fit
5. Four types of stakeholders. within a comprehensive framework which
integrates the range of activities and consti-
There are four groups of stakeholders with
tutes sustainable development in coastal
important roles to play. Those are: (a) the
areas (White et al., 1997).
local resident population, (b) Tourists, (c)
Tourism business sector and (d) the gov-
The UN has prepared guidelines on envi-
ernment, non-governmental and community
ronmentally sound development of coastal
based organizations. In an attempt to design
tourism for ESCAP countries (ESCAP, 1995).
and implement strategies for proper man-
The report is based on case studies carried
agement of resources one should not under-
out in Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives,
estimate the important roles to played by
Philippines and Thailand. The guidelines
each party.
are relating to EIA, technical guidelines for
environmental management, managing so-
As such, coastal resource management has
cial/cultural impact and policy recommen-
become a complex issue particularly when
dations. It gives general guidelines as well
resources are being used for tourism in ad-
as specific actions to be undertaken with
dition to traditional economic activities ex-
respect to certain aspects. But special care is
isting in the coastal sites.
necessary in the case of critical areas like
Hikkaduwa and Calangute which have al-
ready been subject to various types of eco-
Proper Management of Coastal logical, environmental, physical, economic
Resources and socio-cultural problems resulting from
the existing nature of tourism development.
The key issue of proper management of
coastal resources is to allow sustainable use
of resources. Sustainable use is also referred A Strategy for Sustainable Coastal
to as “Sustainable Development” which has
received much attention of development
planners, policy makers, politicians, profes-
The lessons learned from the two case study
sionals, academics, and researchers in recent
sites selected from Sri Lanka and India leads
times. It provides a good conceptual
us to think about the appropriate strategy
framework for any kind of development
for the development of tourism which takes
activity. In the context of tourism, sustain-
98 Tantrigama

into consideration the specific nature of 6. Draft management plan through

problems that different sites are faced with. community involvement, determine
Hikkaduwa was one of the sites for the im- indicators for monitoring and con-
plementation of Coastal Resources Man- duct cost benefit analysis.
agement Projects (CRMP) of USAID. The 7. Implement pilot projects while
concept of Special Area Management planning continues.
(SAM) approach was adopted and imple-
mented as an integrative approach for The very specific nature of the SAM plan-
coastal zone management. SAM approach ning process is that it differs from the con-
provides a good conceptual framework for ventional planning process in which the or-
developing appropriate development der of planning, implementation, monitor-
strategies for specific geographical areas. ing and feedback is important. Under SAM,
the implementation does not necessarily
The basic premises for SAM process is that it follow a planning stage. The implementa-
is possible to organize local communities to tion can begin at the planning stage which
manage their natural resources and they allows planning to be continually revised.
will continue to do so if they perceive that
they derive tangible benefits from better The outcome of the SAM plan adopted in
management. The planner, the planning Hikkaduwa (CRMP, 1996) brought mixed
agency or the organization group play only results. This is a new planning concept ap-
a catalytic role in organizing the local com- plied in the Asian region. The success of the
munity. They can provide technical and fi- plan depends heavily on the active partici-
nancial support for the management effort pation of all stakeholders who were in-
which is formulated and implemented as a volved in planning process at implementa-
local community and/or local government tion stages. The Hikkaduwa SAM plan re-
effort. (Wickramaratna and White, 1992). ceived much attention at the planning
Community participation is incorporated in stages. Once the project was over and the
the planning stage of the SAM. This fre- coordinating office was removed, participa-
quently is not possible in the case of macro tion of relevant parties was lacking. Certain
level or broader area planning. However, actions recommended in the plan such as
the success of SAM is based on the extent to construction of the fishing harbor are now
which implementation and monitoring be- under way. But the implementation of most
comes a local responsibility and gradual of the recommended actions were not satis-
reduction of outside support in the long run. factorily undertaken. The lesson to be learnt
The basic steps of SAM approach are: from the SAM project undertaken in Hik-
1. Agreement on need for SAM for a kaduwa is that planning as well as imple-
particular site and identify national mentation should be institutionalized at the
and local level participants. local authority level. Leaving it to be imple-
2. Compile Environmental Profile of mented voluntarily is not a good strategy to
the area and determine the priority be adopted in a case of countries like Sri
management issues. Lanka. The application of the SAM ap-
3. Enter the community with full-time proach to Hikkaduwa tourism area provides
professional facilitators and com- indications for further refinement to be un-
munity organizers to liase with dertaken in the next stages.
community stakeholders, organize
education programs and facilitate There is no such micro level attempt to plan
the planning process. for tourism in Calangute. The Department
4. Conduct planning cum training of Town & Country Planning of Goa pre-
workshops in the area. pared a Master Plan for Tourism Develop-
5. Organize resource management ment in 1987 covering the entire state of Goa
core groups. (Deprtment of Town & Country Planning,
Goa, 1987). That Plan was also not imple-
Tantrigama 99

mented as it did not receive the required Town & Country Planning Department of
public support because of the reason that Goa. (1987). Master Plan for Tourism De-
public opinion had not been adequately velopment in Goa, Panaji, Goa.
sought at the planning stage. In the begin- Wickramaratna, H.J.M., and White, Alan T.,
ning of 1999, the Goa Department of Tour- (1992). Concept Paper on Special Area
ism started preparing the second Tourism Management for Sri Lankan Coasts, Work-
Master Plan. Once the report is prepared it ing Paper No. 10/1992, Coastal Resources
will be another macro plan for tourism in Management Project, Sri Lanka, Co-
the state of Goa. Calangute is an area which lombo.
has not been given any special focus in any White, Alan T., Barker, V., and Tantrigama,
kind of planning. But it is clearly evident G. (1997). Using Integrated Coastal
that Calangute requires special attention Management and Economics to Con-
which cannot be given in regional/national serve Coastal Tourism Resources in Sri
level planning. Lanka, AMBIO, Vol.XXVI, Number 6,
Royal Swedish Academy of Science.
Wilson, D. (1997). Strategies for sustainabil-
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