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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.
“Sri Lanka Shines In Beijing” joint mega promotion campaign is held under the guidance of Minister of Economic Development .Basil Rajapaksa. This event has been organized by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Sri Lankan embassy in China.
The campaign kicked off yesterday at China World Hotel with a ‘Sri Lankan Night’ which featured a series of activities highlighting the Island’s culture and tradition. “Sri Lankan Night” featured cultural shows reflecting the unique Sri Lankan identity. The Sri Lankan Night is to be followed by a ‘Business forum’ to be held today at the China World Hotel targeting the travel and trade participants. “Sri Lanka Shines in Beijing” will gather further momentum, with a shopping mall promotion campaign at “THE PLACE” of Beijing, running up to three days, starting today.
As part of this mega campaign, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion has launched a mega Billboard advertising campaign in the city of Beijing in parallel to a series of other promotional activities such as promoting Sri Lanka through Light box advertising, paper advertisements , radio jingles and also a PR campaign. The Billboard campaign is the first ever promotion of its kind ever to be executed in the Chinese market at this scale. The LED backlit hoarding screens will be displayed in over 21 strategic locations in Beijing, These bill locations showcase major tourism attractions in Sri Lanka including history and culture, beaches, wildlife, festivals, ayurveda and spa, gem & jewellery that are of interest to the Chinese travellers. Meanwhile prominent places in 18 subway railway stations in Beijing have been identified as high spots for the promotion.
“Sri Lanka Shines in Beijing” promotional campaign has already set its mark as a major promotional tool towards attracting 2.5 million tourists per annum by 2016. Out of the expected 2.5 million tourists to the country, Sri Lanka is planning to attract 275,000 Chinese travellers into the country.
While Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka is on a steady rise with a year-on-year increase of 74 percent. The latest jump shows encouraging signs as the Government of Sri Lanka is campaigning vigorously to capture a slice out of the growing Chinese outbound tourism market, which during the year 2012 in total stood at 83 million tourists.