TRAVEL GAZETTE – Sri Lanka will lead a high level delegation to China on May 17 to attend the four day World Tourism Conference which is to be held in Beijing.
Tourism Minister John Amaratunga, who will be leading the delegation, told Xinhua that discussions between the Chinese and Sri Lankan governments will be held, on the sidelines of the conference, in a bid to expand tourism ties between the two nations. An MoU on tourism will also be signed between the two countries.
In addition, Amaratunga said that discussions with international tour operators will also be held to promote Sri Lanka’s tourism, which has seen a boom in the recent years.
“We will assure China and the other countries that Sri Lanka is a safe tourist destination for its travelers. China is already one of our top markets and we hope to attract more visitors this year,” Amaratunga said.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry which was once heavily scarred by a 30-year civil conflict has emerged as the leading foreign exchange earner with an increasing number of tourists, especially from China.
Last year, Sri Lanka received almost 1.8 million tourists, up 17.8 percent from the previous year, largely due to a strong growth of Chinese visitors.
With an increase in the number of Chinese tourists, the Sri Lankan government recently said it is targeting more Chinese airlines to arrive in the island nation as it looks to further expand tourism this year.
The country has already set a target of attracting 2.5 million tourists by the end of this year and 4 million by 2020.