“Ceylon” = A Superior Brand to “Sri Lanka”?

Denzel Perera in Sunday Times, where the title runs thus: “Destination Branding – Sri Lanka or Ceylon?

Sri Lanka was always known as Ceylon and the people of Sri Lanka were known as Ceylonese in the pre-independent era. Sandy beaches, wildlife, hills in the central region, archaeological sites, etc. have given Sri Lanka much more than needed to convert this paradise island into the most sought-after tourist destination. However, there seems to be a fundamental mistake that was done in changing the name of this paradise island from Ceylon to Sri Lanka. Today, our country has Ceylon Tea, Ceylon Cinnamon, Etc. which are unparallel and world-class in their quality. The term Ceylon is generally considered archaic, having been replaced by Sri Lanka, but it is still used in some contexts. At the same time, we are spending a colossal amount of money on establishing brands such as Sri Lankan Airlines, Sri Lankan Cricket, and Sri Lanka as a tourist destination.


Despite how much money is spent on advertising and promotions, whenever a random foreigner is tested on the awareness of Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, the immediate response received is – “what is Sri Lanka? Or where is Sri Lanka on the map?” Under the prevailing uprise in the public against the economic policies and the political agendas in Sri Lanka, the country has gained negative publicity up to an extent where most of those who didn’t have an idea about Sri Lanka are now aware of its whereabouts unfortunately for wrong reasons and wrong associations. Despite the calamities and catastrophes that take place daily, I’m sure Sri Lanka will find her way back to gain her glory. As Sri Lankans, we have been trained by the past to look forward to exciting times whenever we went through hardships. At this point in time, as we are sailing through a rough sea, it’s encouraging to realize that the conditions will sooner or later change for the better. There will be a day when the world is going to come back to us seeking the warmth and hospitality that they received from fellow Sri Lankans.

What should we do differently?

Sri Lanka will be known in the future for WRONG REASONS. We have gained negative publicity around our brand. The associations that Sri Lanka used to have around her brand will remain the same. There will be a few negative associations that can ruin the strength and the value of the brand. Therefore, it’s suggested that, as a strategic measure, we change the name from Sri Lanka to Ceylon.

Sri Lanka | CEYLON

What is better? Sri Lanka or Ceylon as a brand name?

Sri Lanka sounds unique but at the same time, it sounds complicated. Bringing back Ceylon can evoke new desires, especially in the hearts of the affluent gray market who used to love this paradise island. Also, Ceylon can sound far better than Sri Lanka as it ends in a high note than a low note.  From Portuguese Ceilão, eventually from Ancient Greek (Seledíba), from Pali shaadvaseedva, or From British Serendib to Ceylon.  Just like many other things in Sri Lanka, the name itself seems to be having many origins however, all in all, the name Ceylon can have many positive impacts on the island nation than Sri Lanka which is hard to pronounce and ambiguous.

Why “Ceylon”?

After going through the current crisis, on the day we go back to the world to say “We are Back – You can come back” – we should be having a grand plan to revamp or revitalize the brand of our country. It’s at this point we can go back to our roots and say – Ceylon is back.

The authentic tourist destination in the world – Ceylon is back!

The real thing – Ceylon is back!

Tiny but elegant – Ceylon is back!

The official hospitality nation of the world – Ceylon is back!

Air Ceylon – Radio Ceylon – Ceylon Tea – TV Ceylon – Ceylon Cinnamon – Ceylon Arrack – Ceylon Travel – Ceylon Cricket – Ceylon Athletic – Ceylon Medicine – Ceylon Food – Ceylon Music – Ceylon Clothing are all back!

What is the underpinning reason to have “Ceylon” back?

The underpinning reason to have Ceylon back is to restore the feelings: of warmth, care, freedom, joy, fun, authenticity, etc. in the minds of tourists around the world. Sri Lanka has the potential to position herself as the ultimate cushion for the world to come and relax. The lap of Mother Ceylon is a place where people can find their relief, remedy, and rejoice. Ceylonese will be ready to take care of them and the whole country will be ready to welcome friends from all corners of the world. The world is going back to its roots and people are looking for more authentic ways and means of relaxing than flamboyant ways of spending holiday. Even if it’s the case, they will not be the target market for Ceylonese. We can pay attention to the ultimate decision criteria; “Willingness to pay” – in other words, how much a tourist would like to spend in Ceylon and what’s the price ceiling. Who are the categories of people who can feel the difference and pay a little premium for an authentic and truly memorable experience? It’s this target group that Ceylon should look at in the future.

Our Tourism targets should be based on the following for it to be more realistic and doable.

What is the minimum spend that we look at from a tourist for enjoying our natural resources?

What are the avenues to provide a luxury service without harming the environment?

What are the ways and means of providing tourists with an unforgettable experience?

What is the image we want to paint in the minds of the tourists who come to Sri Lanka?

What are the main sectors that we should look at in the short-medium-long run to attract visitors?

Name is important to position a brand. But the name alone would not be able to take the challenge. The next is to see what is on offer. This will be discussed next week…………..  TBC

Denzel Perera

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One response to ““Ceylon” = A Superior Brand to “Sri Lanka”?

    “Without a doubt Ceylon is a superior brand! “Sri Lanka “ was not blessed For more reasons than one.
    * The composer of the National Anthem committed suicide ahead of our becoming a Republic.
    * The new Constitution was not fair by the minorities.
    * The PM Mrs Bandaranaike tampered with the Education system. Her priority should have been to create a premium for the teaching of English and taken it to the rural schools to undo the damage done by SWRD.
    * The huge disadvantage the emerging generation faced led to frustrations, divisions, and insecurity which in the ensuing years snowballed to violence compounded by the standardisation policy for Uni admissions that you are familiar with.
    * She did not have the Education to appreciate the damage she was doing and was ill advised by unstable fellows like Felix Dias, whom she listened to.
    Just compare the History since Independance of Ceylon and Sri Lanka !
    Surely a curse still hangs over the latter?

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