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Friday July 12th, 2024

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts: Enhancing Biodiversity for Sustainable Tourism

Johan Aschan, Area Vice President of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts – Sri Lanka Resorts and General Manager of Cinnamon Bentota Beach

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts’ Johan Aschan, Area Vice President of Sri Lanka Resorts, and General Manager of Cinnamon Bentota Beach, shares insights into how Cinnamon Sri Lanka Resorts contributes to the biodiversity enhancement of the regions they operate in. The 8 Sri Lankan Resorts are strategically placed in Sri Lanka’s tourist hotspots, aiming to protect and enrich local environments and communities while offering guests immersive Sri Lankan experiences.

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts has a presence in several key tourist hotspots around Sri Lanka. Can you discuss how the strategic locations of your Sri Lankan Resort properties enhance the experience for guests and visitors, allowing them to truly experience Sri Lanka?

Our properties are strategically located to provide guests with a rich and immersive experience of Sri Lanka. Our beach properties—Cinnamon Bentota Beach, Cinnamon Bey Beruwala, Trinco Blu by Cinnamon, and Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon—are situated in prominent seaside holiday hotspots, offering stunning coastal views and vibrant beach life. Meanwhile, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, Habarana Village by Cinnamon, and Cinnamon Citadel Kandy are located in cultural hotspots, allowing guests to explore the rich history and heritage of the region. Additionally, Cinnamon Wild Yala is positioned close to the iconic Yala Wildlife Sanctuary, providing guests with unique wildlife experiences.

Enhancing local biodiversity is at the forefront of our strategy. We continuously strive to support and contribute to conservation efforts, enriching the biodiversity of the areas we operate in. By supporting the preservation of biodiversity in these regions, we help sustain the local flora, fauna and other natural resources, which in turn supports the livelihoods of our local communities. The health of our oceans, forests, and wildlife is intricately linked to the well-being of the local community and the sustainability of tourism as a key source of income for the country.

At Cinnamon Sri Lanka Resorts, we take responsibility to ensure that these vital resources are protected for generations to come. This commitment not only preserves the natural beauty and cultural significance of these locations but also fosters a stronger connection between our guests and the local environment, enhancing the overall guest experience and ensuring the sustainability of tourism in Sri Lanka.

Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts is known for its commitment to uplifting biodiversity in the areas of operation. Could you provide some examples of initiatives or projects Cinnamon Sri Lanka Resorts has undertaken to support and enhance local ecosystems?

One of our most impactful initiatives is the Elephant Gathering project, launched last year in collaboration with our in-house wildlife experts at Cinnamon Nature Trails, at Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. This forum aims to facilitate awareness and education about Sri Lanka’s annual elephant gathering, the largest in Asia, by bringing together subject matter experts. Our main objective is to sustain this natural phenomenon unique to Sri Lanka, by creating a platform for education and awareness.

This year, we are honoured to welcome Valmik Thapar, a renowned Indian conservationist and author, as our keynote speaker. Local experts Dr Prithiviraj Fernando, Dr Sumith Pilapitiya, and Rohan Pethiyagoda will also join us. Since 2014, the Cinnamon Elephant Project, initiated with Cinnamon Nature Trails and the Centre for Conservation & Research (CCR), has advanced our understanding of elephant behaviour and social dynamics.

We started by cataloguing individual male elephants and later expanded to satellite-collaring matriarchs, providing unprecedented insights into their movements and interactions. Over 300 elephants have been identified, and the data collected aids the Department of Wildlife in making informed conservation decisions. This project supports broader strategies to preserve these majestic creatures for future generations.

Another key initiative is the Live and Let Live project at Bendi Wewa, addressing the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province. The issue often stems from a lack of awareness about elephant behaviour. Our approach at Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts promotes an understanding of elephant behaviour, habitats, and social structures to foster peaceful coexistence. The Live and Let Live initiative, in collaboration with the TUI Care Foundation Germany, Cinnamon Nature Trails, and the Centre for Research & Conservation, implemented a Community Fencing project. Together with villagers, we constructed a 5 km-long fence, preventing elephants from damaging crops and providing immediate relief to the community. This success showcases the power of community collaboration and innovative conservation.

Additionally, we support the Cinnamon Rainforest Restoration Project, focusing on replanting native trees to rehabilitate degraded areas. All Cinnamon properties contribute to this work, restoring natural habitats and promoting biodiversity.

In coastal regions, we are committed to marine conservation through coral restoration projects and regular beach clean-ups. Our partnerships with wildlife organizations help protect endangered species, such as supporting the monitoring and conserving of turtle nesting sites in the Hikkaduwa region by our property, Hikka Tranz by Cinnamon. We also launched initiatives through Cinnamon Wild Yala to protect livestock from leopards by distributing cattle pens to villagers.

We promote sustainable farming practices among local farmers through our GAP (Good Agriculture Practices) farming initiatives, emphasizing soil health and biodiversity. These practices enhance the environment and contribute to the sustainability of local agriculture.

Our conservation efforts provide significant educational opportunities for guests and staff. By engaging in these projects, we aim to create a lasting positive impact on local ecosystems and inspire a collective commitment to conservation.