Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, along with its globally acclaimed ecotourism arm Cinnamon Nature Trails, was recently recognized for its ground-breaking elephant conservation project by the World Travel Market (WTM). The Cinnamon Elephant project was shortlisted in the ‘Best in Responsible Tourism’ category at the International Travel and Tourism Awards presented by the World Travel Market.
Considered to be among the top 10 greatest natural animal spectacles in the world, the Elephant Gathering is the largest gathering of the wild Asian elephant, occurring annually within the safety of the protected Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The Cinnamon Elephant Project was a collaborative effort initiated in 2014, between Nature Trails and the Centre for Conservation and Research (CCR), with full funding from John Keells Foundation. This integrates both long-term conservation efforts of the endangered Asian elephant, and inclusive ecotourism practices in Sri Lanka through elephant viewing based on this annual elephant gathering.
Data gathered from tracking both collared matriarchs will help understand the exact seasonal movement of the elephant herds, and help tackle human-elephant conflicts through better land and water management recommendations. This also facilitates effective, long-term conservation initiatives for Asian elephants. The team successfully completed the first phase of the project in 2017 where over 70 elephants were identified, named and photo-catalogued. Phase two of the project was activated in early 2018 with the collaring of the matriarchs of two elephant herds with support from Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), which enabled state-of-the-art satellite and GPS tracking of the two herds after the dispersion of the gathering.
International Travel and Tourism Awards consistently look for initiatives that inspire and educate others about the contribution which tourism can make to the development of a place, since it contributes in variety of ways, such as employment and local economic development, providing additional spending power to sustain more restaurants, cafes and entertainment, sustaining cultural and natural heritage, contributing to a sense of place and local pride, and encouraging young people to stay in their community and thrive.
“We take great pride in the work that we do to promote responsible tourism in Sri Lanka and Cinnamon Elephant Project is extremely significant to us due to the critical nature of this sensitive issue and that this would give us a greater opportunity to create more awareness of our efforts and encourage best practices in eco-tourism especially concerning elephants and their habits,” stated Chitral Jayatillake, Head of Nature Trails at Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts. “Cinnamon Nature Trails, along with Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts, is delighted to be recognized for an initiative that has reached the bar set by WTM and the International Travel and Tourism Awards.”
The International Travel & Tourism Awards, presented by WTM London, celebrate the success of national, regional and city tourist boards and recognizes outstanding private sector companies and individuals. Organised by WTM London, along with an independent panel of expert judges, the 13 awards showcase the best in class of the global travel and tourism industry, in front of an audience of 500 odd senior industry professionals.
The awards will be held in London in November this year, where the event will celebrate exceptional individuals and businesses within the travel and tourism industry.