Recent tourism arrival data from Sri Lanka shows growth at nearly a 20% and this boost in travellers is only a reflection of the mainstream or ‘formal’ tourism sector. With Sri Lanka supporting a large ‘informal’ sector of tourism accommodation, the numbers are believed to be much higher.
Strong demand for Sri Lankan travel experiences brings much needed revenue, but also adds pressure on natural resources and communities. It is reassuring to know that the island’s industry leaders are taking their commitment to sustainable development seriously.
On a recent mission to Sri Lanka, Green Globe’s Business Development Manager Irina Ignat was pleased to discover the variety ways certified resorts in the Cinnamon Hotel and Resort Group manage to preserve their environment and local cultures, while building their businesses.
An evening spent meeting with General Managers and senior representative of the Green Globe certified Cinnamon properties revealed a great wealth of innovations and good deeds.
Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo was the first five star hotel in Sri Lanka to be awarded Green Globe certification and for five consecutive years has maintained continued improvement in all areas of hotel operations. In addition to its activities in Sri Lanka’s busy capital city, associates from the hotel have also been active in assisting with community projects outside the hotel. One of the most important was to help renovate the world-renowned Abeygiriya Dagoba. Hotel associates took the twelve hour round trip to the ancient Buddhist site to work re-laying the century old bricks of the temple dome.
Cinnamon’s sister city hotel, Cinnamon Grand Colombo has taken a lead in technological innovations to manage its energy and other utilities. With the recent installation of the Schneider Building Management System (BMS), a first for a hotel in South Asia, Cinnamon Grand was named the Most Intelligent Building in Sri Lanka. This investment now brings annual saving of nearly 4,000 tonnes of GHGs (Greenhouse gases).
Cinnamon’s coastal resorts are also doing their part to enhance the Sri Lankan travel experience. Chaaya Blu Trincomalee is home to whale-watching and offers the opportunity to see the rare Blue Whale. The whale-watching business is a major economic contributor for the local community and the hotel has helped with the fit out of non-polluting, low noise boat engines so as not to disrupt whale migrations. The hotel works with eight local fishermen, who operate whale-watching expeditions under the supervision of Chaaya Blu Trincomalee. The resort also provides education on best practices to protect both the whales and the guests who journey out to see them.
Bentota Beach Hotel is custodian to the mangrove lined Bentota River, its estuary system and coastal beaches. The resort is famous for its relaxed beach activities and attracts guests from around the world. As part of its up-skilling program for local workers, Bentota has invested in the training of ‘Beach Operators’, a collection of service staff who attend to guest needs. Previously many of these operators were unskilled in service standards and their activities were considered disruptive to hotel guest. With the assistance of the hotel, these workers now enjoy better opportunities and positively contribute to the tourists’ leisure experience.
Apart from Green Globe certification, Cinnamon Bey Beruwala has also earned Leed Gold Certification for its sustainable construction and design. Many of the attractive fixtures and fitting of the resort, including tabletops in the restaurants, have been constructed using recycled pieces of tile which would otherwise have been discarded by tile manufacturers. The resort also lowers its environmental footprint by reusing 100% of the grey water that it treats on site.
Amongst the forests and nature reserves of Sri Lanka’s Northern country-side Cinnamon Citadel Kandy has invested in Biogas technology which converts kitchen waste and other organics into a clean and low cost source of energy. Gas for cooking and heating is generated by the resort’s Biogasas unit as well as composting material for fertilizing gardens.
And finally Cinnamon Lodge Habarana and Chaaya Village Habarana are both located next to the world-renowned Minneriya Nature Reserve home to elephant, Langur and Macaque monkeys, Samba Deer and the Sri Lankan Leopard. The resorts sit on the Habarana Lake with over 150 types of birds and numerous species of butterfly’s. While the resorts actively protect and care for their wilderness paradise, Cinnamon Lodge Habarana also takes advantage of the fertile country-side, producing a diverse and exotic range of fruit and vegetables for their guests to enjoy.
The Cinnamon Hotel & Resort group has every type of vacation offering for travellers to Sri Lanka. And most importantly their commitment to protecting Sri Lanka’s natural assets, while sustainably managing precious resources are independently verified by the annual Green Globe certification.