Empowering Change through Passion and Purpose

Authored by:
Sangeetha Liyanapathirana,
PATA Face of the Future 2023; Manager - Health, Hygiene and Sustainability, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts

I am Sangeetha Liyanapathirana, entrusted with managing sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), health, safety and government relations at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, a property based under the portfolio of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts in Sri Lanka. As PATA Face of the Future 2023 winner, I am thrilled to share my journey that embodies my passion and commitment to sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community empowerment in the dynamic world of travel and tourism.

A Remarkable Start

My journey began with a deep-rooted desire to address societal challenges and make a tangible difference in the lives of those most in need. From the onset, I recognised the profound impact that the tourism industry could have on society, and I have always been passionate about harnessing this influence for the greater good. The diverse responsibilities entrusted to me provided a unique opportunity to make a meaningful impact within the company and the broader tourism industry.

PATA Face of the Future 2023: A Humbling Honour

Receiving PATA Face of the Future award was a momentous milestone in my career and a recognition of my commitment to driving positive change. This journey has been nothing short of transformative, providing me with unparalleled opportunities to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures, locally and globally. Through speaking engagements and collaborative endeavours, I have shared insights and experiences, inspiring future leaders to embrace sustainability and social responsibility in their professional endeavours.

Nurturing Communities Through Compassionate Initiatives

My journey in community engagement began with initiatives close to the heart of thriving communities. One of the cornerstone projects is the ‘Pasal Diriya' initiative, which addresses the pressing issue of child malnutrition in Sri Lanka. Recognising the statistics and the urgent need for action, we launched a programme to provide nourishing school meals, ensure higher attendance rates, and foster positive learning outcomes. Through strategic partnerships and sustainable practices, we have made a tangible difference in the lives of children, laying the foundation for a healthier future.

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the 'Meals that Heal' initiative to combat hunger among vulnerable communities. By leveraging the Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts' food delivery platform, we pledged to deliver a meal to those in need with every order placed, addressing immediate food insecurity and promoting sustainable business practices. This initiative not only received recognition at the PATA Awards ceremony in 2023 but also exemplified the power of collective action in times of crisis as we partner with local authorities to ensure efficient distribution and lasting impact.

Dry rations donation to children development center.

Staff from Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts distributing foodpacks in their community.

Confronting Plastic Pollution Through Innovation

Recognising the urgent issue of plastic pollution, we initiated the 'Zero Plastic' art competitions. This annual event raises awareness and empowers young minds to become agents of change with creativity to combat plastic waste. Through these initiatives, we are addressing immediate needs and fostering lasting, sustainable change.

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts: A Pillar of Sustainability

At Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, sustainability is not just a buzzword but a way of life. Our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) approach is grounded in protecting the planet, supporting our people and communities and empowering all for sustainable development. We launched projects like 'Aloka' to recruit female employees into non-traditional roles in the hospitality industry and initiated an apprenticeship academy for potential youths entering the industry. Furthermore, we annually host a Plastic Upcycling Craft making activity for school children to coincide with Thanksgiving Day celebrations, using plastic waste generated from hotel operations. Additionally, community awareness programmes on topics ranging from child protection to plastic reduction and substance abuse are often organised by the hotel.

At the heart of these initiatives lies a belief in the power of community-driven solutions to effect meaningful change. We have witnessed remarkable outcomes through collaboration and collective action, from improved nutrition to heightened environmental consciousness.

If you are interested in learning more about Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts sustainability initiatives, including project “Aloka”, check out their latest sustainability report >


Plastic Reduction Competition for school students.

Thanksgiving Day celebration.


Challenges as Catalysts for Change

Awareness session with university students.

Every venture faces challenges, and one significant hurdle encountered was the community's limited understanding of the impact of the tourism industry. Several awareness programmes are initiated to foster better understanding and cooperation to bridge this gap. Together, our initiatives aim to raise awareness about the tourism industry's positive influence on local communities.

Future Goals: A Vision for a Better Tomorrow

As I look ahead, my goals are rooted in the belief that we can do more. Together with the management, we aspire to expand sustainability projects aligned with Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts' ESG goals, improve children's health and nutrition and enhance ESG efforts in the Sri Lankan hospitality industry.

The Movement for a Sustainable Future

PATA Face of the Future award is not just an individual achievement; it symbolises a collective commitment to positive change in the travel and tourism industry. I invite you to join me on this mission—explore opportunities to support sustainability initiatives, engage in community-driven projects, and advocate for environmental and social responsibility. Together, we can create a more sustainable, inclusive future for all.


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