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Sri Lanka: travel and (fair) trade

Sri Lanka is a travellers dream. From the azure waters of the coastline to the tea plantations and mind-boogling hilltop scenery -  Sri Lanka appeals to everyone.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a travellers dream. From the azure waters and delightful seafood of the coastline where it's completely acceptable to swing in a hammock from dawn until dusk, to the tea plantations, world-class hikes, tantalising curries and mind-boggling hilltop scenery -  Sri Lanka appeals to everyone.

ONE OF THE REASONS SRI LANKA SHOULD BE ON YOUR TRAVEL HIT LIST IS BECAUSE IT'S CONSIDERED A RELATIVELY EMERGING TOURIST DESTINATION. SO GO, BEFORE IT GETS TOO BUSY!

According to the Lonely Planet, a record number of tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2011 (over 800,000) which was an increase of almost 40% from the previous year. And there are no signs of tourism slowing down. According to locals, business is better every year.

But socially and economically Sri Lanka has a long way to go.

When the tsunami hit Sri Lanka's coast in December 2004, it claimed the lives of an estimated 38,000 people and destroyed the livelihoods of many more. And there's the 26 year long civil war between the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which only ended in 2009. It has taken a huge toll, with an estimated 800,000 people displaced from their homes and sources of income.

So while tourism has played a part in boosting the economy, there is a significant need for secure incomes for the hundreds of thousands of families who remain in poverty. And Fairtrade provides an opportunity for producers and artisans to escape poverty.

Sri Lanka has a rich artistic history and many of the art and craft traditions have been influences by the island's Buddhist culture. These influences are seen clearly in the nation's paintings, sculptures and architecture. Portuguese inspiration is also evident in lacework and batik, while wooden handicrafts and clay pottery are found in the hill regions.

Organisations like Gospel House Handicrafts not only create beautiful wooden toys for our children to enjoy, but ensure the artisans and craftspeople receive a fair price for their products. By purchasing their designs, you are helping to improve the livelihoods of Sri Lankan families. Cheers!