“Sri Lanka Shines in Beijing,” a Rs. 150 million mega promotional campaign by Sri Lanka Tourism’s promotional arm, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) was concluded in Beijing, China, yesterday with the support of the Chinese government and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Beijing. The event which was held in China World Hotel kicked off with a glitzy “Sri Lanka Night” comprising of both Sri Lankan and Chinese Cultural events and the launch of the first ever official tourism website in Chinese.
The “Sri Lanka Night” was followed by B2B trade and travel meetings, a mall activation programme and a bus advertising and media launch.
According to Sri Lanka tourism officials, 400 Chinese and 100 Sri Lankan tourism, travel and trade stakeholders—particularly the leading firms in tea and gem and jewellery business— were invited to the event.
Among the 100 Sri Lankans participated, there were representatives from leading 35 outbound tour operators— the largest contingent of Sri Lankan outbound operators ever came on a foreign promotional campaign.
Sri Lanka saw over 70 percent Year-on-Year increase in Chinese tourist arrivals in the first half of 2013 amounting to almost 30, 000 and the government is expecting about 50, 000 Chinese visitors at the end of the year. The direct flights operated by Sri Lanka’s flag carrier, SriLankan Airlines flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Kunming are also expected to be leveraged in boosting to tourists from China.
According to Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman, Bhashwara Gunarathna China is “almost a virgin market” with a “lot of potential” in terms of Sri Lanka’s tourism growth story which was given a new lease of life with the crushing of the separatist militant movement in 2009.
“The whole point of having this promotional campaign in Beijing is to make the average Chinese aware that the war has ended in Sri Lanka and peace and political stability has returned. And also to showcase the richness of the tourism product Sri Lanka,” Gunarathna said.
When queried about the spending power of the Chinese tourist, Gunarathna stressed that the Chinese are “very good spenders” but of course of “different type”. “Wherever they go they look for value for money. If a four star hotel is offering similar services of a five star-hotel at a cheaper rate they would check into the four-star hotel. This is their intelligence.”
According to international travel and tourism data, the Chinese have overtaken the Americans as the highest spending tourists. Sri Lanka Tourism estimates an average Chinese tourist spends over US $ 100 per day during his or her stay is in Sri Lanka.
The neighbouring Maldives has been successful in boosting tourist arrivals from China. The Maldives Tourism Ministry data showed that Chinese tourist arrivals had risen 50 percent Yearon-Year to almost 180, 000 in the first half of 2013.