The Chinese tourism dragon roared, and the world woke up. But is Sri Lanka still asleep?
The Chinese dragon roared, and world tourism woke up. But not in Sri Lanka, according to a detailed study by the prestigious London School of Economics. Or at least, not quite yet.
However, the report’s author, N.R Ravindra Deyshappriya, a former research director at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI), is guardedly optimistic.
He says: “Chinese tourist arrivals grew by a remarkable 72.5% in 2010-2016, while Indian and UK tourist arrivals increased by only 19.3% and 10.3%, respectively.
“Furthermore, tourist arrivals from China increased by 68% in 2015 compared to 2014, while Indian tourist arrivals grew by only 30%.
“Aside from the absolute number of tourist arrivals, the growth rate of tourist arrivals shows the potential significance of China as a tourism partner of Sri Lanka.”
Meanwhile, Jing Travel, a leading voice for news and analysis on Chinese global travel, has published a report entitled ‘Where Next? What’s influencing Chinese Millenial Travellers?’
It notes: “Chinese millennial travelers are fuelling the growth of global tourism as they seek new and fresh experiences. But what influences where they want to go? And how do they plan their next adventure?”
According to the China National Tourism Administration, H1 2017 reached 62.03 million outbound visits, 5% higher comparing to the same period of 2016.
Nevertheless, says the LSE report “despite the growth in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry … the number of Chinese tourists remains negligible when compared to the numbers of Chinese tourists travelling to other countries.”
This against the background of “the prevailing peaceful environment in Sri Lanka and a growing middle class in China … an opportune time to implement appropriate policies to attract more Chinese tourists”.
Thus Deyshappriya concludes that Sri Lanka should introduce new policies and practices to make Sri Lanka more attractive for Chinese visitors, including:
- Increase the number of Chinese-speaking guides and hotel staff.
- Promote Sri Lanka’s tourism destinations, hotels, and other tourism-related information on Chinese e-tourism sites such as Tuniu, Baidu and Sina, and also on Chinese social media, especially
- Create more world-class shopping complexes. “Shopping has been recognized as one of the key drivers for Chinese tourists when selecting travel destinations.”
- Cultivate tourism-friendly ‘soft power’ by recognising and celebrating festivals such as Chinese New Year, which are increasingly global.
- Organise creative, crowd-friendly events such as a Chinese ‘street food’ fair and a Dragon Boat Festival, which signal Sri Lanka’s receptiveness to Chinese culture.
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