Chinese officials to take back positive message of Sri Lanka
A group of 16 Chinese tourist officials recently visited Sri Lanka to get a hands-on view of the country as a tourist’s destination. The China market has been booming in the past few years with close to 30 million out-bound tourists leaving the country. Their preferred destinations have been Thailand, Malaysia and Europe.
Sri Lanka was visited by 12,000 Chinese last year, according to Nihal Perera a consultant at the China-based Lincang City Travel Development. The officials who visited on his recommendation are all members of the Tourism Administration arm of the Lincang Municipal government of Yunnan Province China.
The officials were taken on the usual tourist round including Minneriya, Kandy and the Cultural Triangle. Responses, according to Perera were positive as the Chinese agreed to promote Sri Lankan as a destination for leisure tourism as well as Buddhism among the travel agents in Lincang.
The officials have not been concerned with the security issue and according to Perera said it was a universal problem. “They said terrorism is all over the world. They did not feel any insecurity. And they said that the armed forces were very friendly towards them”.
The Tourist Board of Sri Lanka has been targeting the massive potential in the Chinese market through a number of promotions in the China International Travel Mart this year as well as Shanghai Travel fair.
With the Beijing Olympics coming up, Sri Lanka tourism will be participating in a travel fair in the city to show its support toward the event, said Perera who is also a member of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Board. He also revealed plans to conduct post-Olympic tours of China’s neighbouring states for the Beijing visitors.
Besides tourism Chinese workers are contracted on a number of construction projects in the country which include the Hambantota Port.
According to Perera, Chinese tourists are more likely to come in package tours than as back-packers. This is likely to be to the advantage of the more established hotels in the island and not small-timers. Back-packers comprise the main source of income for smaller villagers because they spend more time meeting with and spending on the vendors, and small guest houses, etc.