Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka have jumped 141.4 percent in the first nine months of 2014, making it the fastest growing market for the Indian Ocean island, latest data showed here on Monday. China continues to close in on the U.K, which is the second highest country, with arrivals growing from 39,354 in the same period last year to 94,994 by the end of September in 2014, according to data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA).
In September 2013, the number of Chinese arrivals was only 5, 804. But it nearly tripled in 2014 with 13,312 Chinese tourists arriving in Sri Lanka in September this year, a growth rate of 129. 4 percent. Sri Lanka has set a target of 1.5 million tourist arrivals for 2014 and hopes to attract 2.6 million travelers by 2016. In early October, the 100,000th Chinese tourist to visit Sri Lanka in the year 2014 was welcomed at the Bandaranaike International Aiport in Katunayake.
The government has focused on intense promotional campaigns to encourage Chinese tourists and expectations are that China will become the second highest tourist source to Sri Lanka before the end of this year. The highest number of travelers have been from India that has strong economic and social ties with the island.
Since the end of a three decade war in 2009, Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals have boomed, reaching over 1.2 million last year and attracting earnings of 1.7 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Central Bank. In the first nine months of this year, a total of 1,107,178 tourists arrived in the island, recording a 22.4 percent increase from the 904,197 came during the corresponding period in 2013.
Most of the tourist arrivals were from western Europe with 355, 154 tourists visiting in the first nine months of this year, recording a 14.2 percent increase over corresponding 2013 figures.