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Sri Lanka looks to China to revive its embattled tourism industry

Sri Lanka has been looking to Chinese tourists, considered the world’s largest spending tourists, to revive its struggling tourism industry as Sri Lankan officials and airlines hold discussions with leading Chinese group tour operators

Jan 01, 2022
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Sri Lankan tourism

Sri Lanka has been looking to Chinese tourists, considered the world’s largest spending tourists, to revive its struggling tourism industry as Sri Lankan officials and airlines hold discussions with leading Chinese group tour operators. Once bringing $4 billion to the country, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is struggling to stay afloat. By October last year, it brought in just $82 million, as per industry estimates 

Earlier this week, officials from Sri Lankan Embassy in Beijing along with officials from the Sri Lankan Airlines met close to 60 representatives from China group tour operators at a town hall meeting. 

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China, Dr. Palitha Kohona, also attended the meeting and explained the opportunities and unique experiences that the island country can offer to potential travelers from China, reported Colombopage.

Non-traditional attractions such as indigenous medicine, adventure opportunities, including rafting, water skiing, kitesurfing, trekking, ballooning, whale watching, elephant riding, and safari, were highlighted in the meeting. 

For the tourism industry anywhere across the world, it is nearly impossible to miss the Chinese, who are the world’s biggest-spending tourist, and who spent close to $270 billion in 2018. However, the strict border control measures adopted by China after the pandemic began significantly held back the recovery of the sector in many countries.

During the meeting with tour operators, the Sri Lankan envoy hoped more Chinese tourists would visit Sri Lanka when border control measures were relaxed. He said that the embassy has already initiated discussions with several Chinese airlines to improve the air connectivity between the two countries. He hopes to meet with all major tour operators in the future.

Significant, Sri Lanka’s failure to revive its tourism industry is one of the major reasons behind its current foreign exchange crisis. From close 2 million tourists in 2018, the island nation welcomed a little over 160,000 in 2021. 

If China relaxes its restrictions and permits group tours, it can revive the tourism economy in several countries, industry experts feel. 
(SAM)

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