The Impacts of Ecotourism on Local Livelihoods: A Case Study of Knuckles Conservation Forest in Sri Lanka
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- Institutt for geografi 
Ecotourism is increasingly recognized as a form of alternative tourism which is viable to achieve a number of social, economic and environmental goals of tourism in a sustainable way. In a protected area setting, ecotourism is considered as a management tool which reconciles both conservation goals and development goals by creation of benefits to the local communities living in and around the protected areas. This study sheds light on the impacts of ecotourism on the local communities in the peripheral villages of the Knuckles conservation forest in Sri Lanka. In order to understand the impacts of ecotourism on the local people, the study also explored the organization and the actors of ecotourism in the area. Theoretical background of the study was drawn from the alternative development paradigm which stresses on people-centered approaches. For assessing the impacts of ecotourism, the study incorporated the concept of ecotourism and sustainable livelihoods approach and also adopted ideas from the concept of community participation. The study mainly followed qualitative research methodologies. The data were largely collected form In-depth interviews, informal discussions and filed observations. The study revealed that ecotourism has generated some positive impacts on the livelihoods of local participants of the industry. It was also evident that the local participation in ecotourism is still limited and ecotourism has not created sufficient opportunities to encourage local participation in the industry. The study identifies that the lack collaboration of responsible actors as a major constraint of ecotourism development of the area. The imbalance between conservation goals and development goals of the Knuckles was also detected. The study further points towards the importance of incorporation among available resources, responsible actors, effective policies and proper management in the practice of ecotourism for benefiting the local communities and development of industry.