Cinnamon is hosting another travel bloggers conference this year, on June 7th. Last year I got to meet a lot of the travel bloggers and get a sense of the event, which was cool.
This sort of thing is an innovative marketing platform for the country because rather than placing ads or going to travel fairs, Cinnamon simply invited bloggers here to experience and write about Sri Lanka themselves. Nowadays a blogger (or more so, Instagrammer, or someone on Facebook) can reach thousands if not millions of people. Most of the tourism 'industry', however, isn't fully aware of that.
Right now the most potent way of marketing a country is not through magazines or mass media. Those play a big part, but people also hear about other places through social media and professional blogs. For a country like Sri Lanka which doesn't have huge advertising budgets, this is a novel way to reach people. Plus our country just is awesome, if you show it they will come.
Last time Cinnamon took the travel bloggers on a tour of Sri Lanka and I and a few other local bloggers tagged along. It was the first time I saw such rampant use of selfie sticks and it was interesting A) that they made a living travelling the world B) they collectively had so much reach. Last time the big brand representative was from BBC Travel and TripAdvisor, this time it's National Geographic. Sometimes the individual bloggers, however, have as much or more reach than institutions, especially through social media.
This year the event also features an awards presentation for travel bloggers, and people love awards.
Personally, I think it's very forward thinking for Cinnamon and a country like Sri Lanka to encourage and invest in digital and social media as a way of marketing our country. I think it's a conference worth attending. There's more details here if you'd like to attend.