Sri Lanka targets up to 150,000 China tourists in 2023

Sri Lanka is targeting up to 150,000 tourists from China in 2023, after the country opened outward tourism and is in talks to get more Chinese airlines to fly to Colombo, officials said.

“We expect between 140,000 – 150,000 Chinese tourists this year and destinations focusing on sports and adventure are popular with Chinese tourists,” Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) told EconomyNext.

“As China is an agent driven market, we have done four roadshows in towns across China which has a direct air connectivity with Colombo.”

Sri Lanka was in the first set of countries designated for group travel by China after the country re-opened for tourism after lifting Coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister Harin Fernando met Chen Yin, Chairman of China Tourism Group (CTG), a top travel operator, who headed a delegation to the Indian Ocean island.

“At the meeting he agreed to provide the necessary support to increase tourists to the level seen before the pandemic and also help re-start flights by Chinese airlines,” Minister Fernando said in a post.

A planned duty-free shopping complex in the China-backed Colombo Port City was also discussed, he said.

Before the pandemic in 2019, 1.9 million tourists visited Sri Lanka, when a suicide blast disrupted tourism. In 2018, 265,965 tourists came from China.

Up to April,2023, 441,177 tourist came to Sri Lanka. In May 4,173 Chinese tourists came.

Gajabahu said SLTBP was working with two Chinese travel agencies to bring tourists.

At the moment there were 10 flights per week from China to Sri Lanka however.

Air China will start direct flights between Chengdu and Colombo three times a week from July 08, 2023, he said.

Sri Lanka is also in talks to increase flights by China Southern and Chongqing Airlines, Gajabahu said.