Success Stories

M.M.Fizer, known in Arugambay as “Sulfi”(27) is a well-known person among the hoteliers, local communities as well as the tourists. In 2001, just after his Ordinary level examinations in school, Sulfi entered into tourism industry. Economic difficulties of the family, together with the booming to informal tourism sector in Arugambay made him to make that choice.

According to him, “I worked at Hangloose guesthouse, and I also took tourists on excursions to attractions around Arugambay. I took them to Muhudu Maha Vihara, Kudumbigala Temple, Magul Maha Vihara, Lagoon safari and other places. I couldn’t speak any English when I started. But with gestures, with few words learn here and there – I try to manage the programs”.

Then Arugambay experienced the disastrous Tsunami in 2004. Sulfi was among the lucky survivors. But the tourism sector, including other livelihoods in the area was devastated. Then some rays of light began to appear behind the tears and agony of Tsunami. Many International Humanitarian agencies came to Arugambay: ICEI was one of the NGO’s and Sulfi took part in the Community Tourism program initiated by ICEI, and he was trained to become a community guide. In 2006, He got the Area Guide license from Sri Lanka Tourist Board through this community based tourism initiative. But the period 2006-2008 became very tough for the tourism industry in Arugambay. Even though the Arugambay was calm and peaceful, being situated in the Eastern province makes it difficult to attract tourists. The rest of the trained guides gave-up the guiding and shift to other livelihoods. Sulfi didn’t give up, and hoped for a brighter future and continued promoting community based excursions.

For Sulfi, the training program was a very important milestone- “I was able to learn about tourism, I improved my English, I improved my knowledge on mangroves, birds and I have developed stories for every place I took tourists. Earlier, when I took tourists to places, temple was just a temple, and birds were just birds, but I gain knowledge from training program about the history and its own stories of the places - get to know different kinds of birds and most importantly, I learn how to professionally handle tourists and improve the services I offer to them. Now I am confident to take tourists with me.”

“Today, I am happy that I personally benefit from tourism and I contribute to the local communities livelihoods through the community based tour itineraries promoted by Ecowave, together with new community guides trained by ICEI, I hope we can serve more tourists in Arugambay and benefit more local communities. I am planning to improve my career to become a National Guide, and then I can take part in community based tours promoted by Ecowave, not only in Arugambay but also in other parts of Sri Lanka.”

We invite you to come and listen to many stories of positive impacts from our communities, who are stakeholders of Ecowave Travels.