Sri Lanka could use more travel content

Cinnamon TBC Asia 2018 sheds light on some key points to consider


Sri Lanka was recently named the best country in the world to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet – citing better transport links, new hotels, and a growing number of activities as the reason for our tiny South Asian island’s rise to the top spot in the guidebook publisher’s annual Best in Travel awards.

Keeping our newly-crowned top spot in focus, the third installment of Cinnamon TBC Asia kicked off its biannual conference at the Cinnamon Grand on 30 October.

As the first-ever online influencer conference to be held in the Asian region in 2014, the conference gained momentum with the addition of the awards in 2016 which recognised some of the most influential travel bloggers in the world today.

Bringing together the world’s best online influencers as well as industry practitioners who have transformed the creation of content and marketing in our digital world – the event presented its attendees with a dynamic and intimate session on topics that are of direct relevance in today’s context of travel.

The conference allowed all in attendance an opportunity to interact with all award-winning travel bloggers, global experts, and industry professionals who were present.

Kicking things off, the event’s first international speaker CEO, Entrepreneur and Influencer Marketing Specialist Shane Barker, set the scene for the conference theme – Agents of Change: Creating Transformational Digital Content for Travel. He spoke of influencer marketing tools, personalised outreach and finding the right influencers.

The conference also featured CEO of Ykone Olivier Billon who spoke of his experience in creating a campaign for Tourism Dubai which was received with resounding praise for its distinctive approach to influencer marketing.

Most importantly, Olivier referred to Sri Lanka’s newly achieved top spot in tourist destinations, highlighting that being number one does not mean one gets to be complacent. He said: “It is when you must work even harder to keep that top spot.”

Olivier also shared his personal experience as a single father travelling to Sri Lanka, stating:

“While the videos for tourism are beautiful and the country has attractions, for my specific requirement, travelling with my kids, I did not find Sri Lanka’s available content to be too persuasive.”

This proved to be a running theme that was brought up throughout in all the presentations made by the speakers; that is – Sri Lanka’s content is simply not enough.

Founder and CEO of Zanadu Zan Wu said:

“Most tourism industries have country-specific draws; Thailand – Bali, Europe – art history, Maldives – beaches etc., but Sri Lanka doesn’t have that one specific key draw.”

He added: “If your main attraction is beaches, then what is the famous beach, or if it’s culture then what exactly is it; there has to be that content available for the traveller.”

Area Manager for Expedia Group Abhay Khanna added to the conversation, saying:

“Yes, it is all good that everything is now online – the hotels, and the bookings – but when you go to actually buy the train ticket, you will still have to wait in line at the station”,

which was also in reference to the fact that, despite all of our progress, there still remains some areas that are heavily traditional and unchanged.

In a panel discussion, Sri Lanka’s brand new tourism tagline “So Sri Lanka” was questioned with many of the speakers agreeing that, much like Visit Britain’s “I Travel For”, which leaves room for literally any interpretation, an all inclusive tagline, our new tagline has its potential.

As a part of this same panel, President of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association Janicke Hansen also commented on the tagline saying “it’s difficult to comment on it just yet, as there still remains a need to create the right content to accentuate a tag line”.

Speaking to the “trusted voices” as Janicke put it; many of the travel bloggers shared their opinions and experience with Sri Lanka.

Bitten By the Travel Bug – Australian Travel + Lifestyle Blogger said:

“My favourite thing about Sri Lanka is that everything is so accessible, it is so very compact and my first time here, I was here for the conference but ended up extending my stay by two weeks just so I could leisurely explore.”

Little Bit of Everything – Blogger, who won the Sri Lanka Airlines Gold award for “Best Sri Lankan Moment” said:

“I’ve been here four times now, and it never gets old! I love that Sri Lanka has everything going for it, it’s not just the beaches, or nature, it’s a ‘little bit of everything’”.

The Boho Chica – a blog for cultures, cuisines, and hiking trails, said:

“I have to say that the best thing about Lanka is how relaxed it feels, and you’ll understand this when you see other countries, like India, which is really intense.”

Reem Kalifa of reemkhalifa_rk said:

“Your island is like a hybrid of India and Thailand, but the clean version.”


By Dimithri Wijesinghe