Cinnamon to spearhead destination marketing in Sri Lanka


In just four months following the horrifying terror attacks that threatened to derail the fast flourishing tourism industry of Sri Lanka, a strong recovery strategy implemented by key industry players such as Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts has enabled the sector to effectively address and avert an emergent crisis. Spearheading this revival, the hospitality chain has initiated a number of campaigns, an encouraging celebrity video with VIP guests who have graced Cinnamon over the past few years, internationally renowned celebrity destination ambassadors such as former Miss Sri Lanka, Jacqueline Fernandez and Miss World, Manushi Chhillar, an innovative destination campaign ‘Bring a Friend Home’ to engage all Sri Lankans in the revival of the industry, the Future of Tourism (FOT) Summit featuring famed CNN correspondent Richard Quest and the first-ever Cinnamon Wellness Retreat.

While strategically driving forth these multiple campaigns, promotions and initiatives within a short period of time, Cinnamon yet again placed Sri Lanka on the world map by bagging a coveted PATA Gold Award this year, ensuring the country remains well-positioned in the minds of tourists as a destination with wonderfully diverse experiential offerings and most importantly, as a safe place to travel.

“First and foremost, the support and love Sri Lanka received soon after the attacks from across the globe were truly reassuring and promising,” stated Jit Gunaratne President Leisure Sector John Keells Group. He added, “We received truly uplifting messages from celebrity guests that Cinnamon hosted throughout the years, urging and encouraging us to show the world our true Sri Lankan spirit.”

To first project a positive image of the country, Cinnamon proceeded to create a video featuring comments by these international celebrities hosted by the hotel chain, calling on the world to visit Sri Lanka. The heart-warming video produced by Cinnamon in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Board as part of the ‘Love Sri Lanka’ campaign saw celebrities such as like chefs Nigella Lawson and George Calombaris, world-famous musicians such as Shaggy and Joaquin Quino McWhinney of Big Mountain who shared their love and support through a video that went viral.

The feedback, engagement and response to the video led Cinnamon to further engage with popular celebrities as destination ambassadors to promote Sri Lanka, among them Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar, and former Miss Sri Lanka and famed Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez.

“Our top source market over the past decade has been India and our main objective through strategic partnerships with destination ambassadors was to further penetrate our key Indian demographic. The Cinnamon celebrity program was architected to reassure tourists that Sri Lanka is once again a safe destination for travel. Celebrity content also sheds light on the wide array of attractions in Sri Lanka that can be experienced and explored,” Dileep Mudadeniya, Vice President John Keells Group, Head of Brand Marketing Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and CEO Cinnamon Life Mall elaborated.

The continued progress enabled Cinnamon to host the third edition of the ‘Future of Tourism Summit’ (FOT 2019) in September, under the timely theme ‘Challenges and Growth in the Face of a Crisis’.

As a result of such continued efforts during the past four months, Cinnamon was proud to announce the first-ever Cinnamon Wellness Retreat planned for November this year. The immersive 10-day programme will be launched at Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, reassured of a stabilising industry and promise to reconnect with Sri Lanka’s world-renowned experiential tourism vertical.

Mudadeniya further added, “We as industry leaders have understood the role and responsibility of Cinnamon in the most perplexing of times and stepped up to the challenge. Our teams were working full days, seven-day weeks to ensure that our industry and not just our properties were getting back on track. Our main objective over the last four months and in the coming months will be to propel forward and continue with our campaigns to recover Sri Lanka’s tourism industry and support all stakeholders and communities that are still dependent on it for their livelihoods. I’m humbled by the amazing response and steadily increasing tourist numbers. The world is definitely falling in love with Sri Lanka all over again, and Cinnamon is proud to be part of the revival.”