Foozoo Travel: www.foozootravel.com - Authentic Sri Lankan Experiences for the LGBT Travel
The story behind the journey
Dinesh, an Avid traveller, has covered the length and breadth of Sri Lanka over several decades and knows it intimately. Since he prefers to stay with small to medium hotels, he has discovered some unique properties that include log cabins in Belihul-oya or a super private fort in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Since meeting Damith, who is now also a director of the company, the two travelled even more in their Toyota Prius. The two men met numerous foreign travellers on their escapades, shared meals, ideas and made lifelong friends. And once, when returning from yet another trip along the Southern Highway, with the sky bursting with vivid hues Dinesh suggested starting their own B&B in Colombo. And there began our story. What started as a 3 bedroom B&B in Colombo 8 became a 7 bedroom B&B - Mahasen by Foozoo in Colombo 8. Their best friend, Bjorn from Germany came aboard in March 2018. Today the three men run a vibrant, inclusive, honest, socially and environmentally conscious travel business with a definite LGBT twist, from the very heart of Colombo.
Is Sri Lanka a safe destination to travel in?
Yes. Sri Lanka has a long-running tourism industry. While most other regional destinations like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Maldives made massive headway, the 30-year conflict (which ended in 2009) made Sri Lanka a destination for the brave. In all these years, the industry has learned to welcome all types of traveller. So the industry itself is very welcoming of the LGBT traveller, although not explicitly stated.
Secondly, although Sri Lanka pops up in the list of countries where Homosexuality is illegal, the reality is quite different. Sri Lanka has a rich history of supporting homosexuality prior to colonialism. However Victorian-era laws, seem to have seeped into cultural law than actual legal law. LGBT convictions are almost non-existent. If arrested (again very rare), locals plead guilty and pay a fine purely out of the need to avoid social stigma. Interestingly, an incident that happened 13 years ago went to the Supreme Court in 2017. While the court ruled against the gay man (as it is the law), they did mention in the ruling that the law is silly and out of time. The number of arrests in 2016 was less than 10. Local groups are actively working towards overturning the legal barriers and a positive result is expected sooner rather than later. Please see the blog on our website for more details.
Earthlings First – Our Philosophy
Dinesh has been an activist all his adult life and has been particularly involved with LGBT work. Accept Sri Lanka, a group he started, is primarily focused on making LGBT material available in the local languages. Damith is a full on environmentalist and animal lover. Bjorn is strongly attached to arts and culture. Dinesh’s sister is hearing impaired and is part of the team. Our own team is therefore far from society’s definition of ‘perfect’ but we believe we are anything but. Our tagline embodies that philosophy ‘Everybody’s welcome!’ This is why we are also possibly Sri Lanka’s only travel business that offers disability travel and pet-friendly travel on top of LGBT travel. We also intend our businesses to be run purely on solar power by the end of 2018 and all vehicles to be electric. We only work with ethical travel partners that place the environment and local communities on the top of their priority list.
About our accommodation.
Mahasen by Foozoo is the only hotel, owned and operated by us as of now. However, we are already working on a new property close to the airport and will be built around a ‘Tropical Garden’ concept. A third is planned for Galle!
About Foozoo Travel
We believe a destination is made remarkable by authentic experiences that immerse you in a particular community or location. Most tour operators offer a collection of destinations. Our tours are driven by the experiences you can have in them. This is a fundamental uniqueness of ours.
This thinking also drives our selection of Hotels. For example, a hotel in Kandy is selected for its service but also because its architecture tells you a story about Kandy. More importantly are tours are 100% customizable by dates, budget and interests. If you love train travel, we will do one that is done completely by train. If you love food, we will let you experience all the different types of cuisine.
The extensive groundwork we do in research and planning does come with a premium. However, budget-friendly plans are also available.