Chinese tourists flock to Sri Lanka

The number of Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka soared by just over 75 percent during the first nine months of this year, recording one of the highest growth rates for the country’s tourism industry, official data showed on Thursday.

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals jumped by 26.2 percent in September this year, compared to the same period last year, according to data released by State-run Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).

The month recorded 89,761 tourists arriving in the country, compared to the 71,111 tourists in September 2012.

Tourist arrivals recorded a 15.5 percent increase in the first nine months of this year, with 801,210 tourists arriving on the island.

One of the largest increases came from Chinese tourists, increasing 75.4 percent this year compared to the same period for the previous year.

This means that Chinese arrivals rose from 16,623 to 29,153 in the first nine months of 2013.

It is also the highest escalation among the major players in Sri Lanka’s lucrative post-war tourism industry.

China is already the eighth main destination for the local travel sector with projections for a significant increase towards the end of 2013 and the years ahead, industry experts believe.

A large contingent of Chinese tour operators are also expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on a promotional tour on the sidelines of the mega Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) being hosted by Sri Lanka this month.

The Chinese industry officials will be among 100 tour operators from over a dozen countries that will be flying into Sri Lanka to promote its tourism industry that has tied up with the most important summit held by the 53 countries belonging to the Commonwealth.

The Chinese business delegation is also expected to attend the summit, which starts November 10.

Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Bhashwara Gunarathna told media there would be 82 tourism industry participants at the exposition, taking up 100 stalls.

“We are very keen to use this opportunity to promote Sri Lanka as a great tourist destination to all the countries attending CHOGM and its related events,” he told reporters.

Sri Lanka has set a target of 1.25 million for 2013 and hopes to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016. To achieve this mark Sri Lanka needs 100,000 Chinese tourists by 2016.

[Via Global Times]

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