Sri Lanka tourism Post COVID-19: We should cater to Chinese market in a more proactive manner
By Anjali Caldera
Sri Lanka should cater to the Chinese market in a more proactive manner because Sri Lanka Tourism only attracted 260,000 Chinese tourists during recent times, out of the 169 million Chinese national tourists who travel around the world, which is quite disappointing, stated Sri Lanka’s newly is appointed Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Dr. Palitha Kohona.
Dr. Kohona stated this at a recent discussion on post COVID Tourism from China, held in Colombo.
“China is the biggest source of international tourism in pre- COVID 19 times, Out of 169 million Chinese travelling around the world, around 100 million Chinese travel to Taiwan, Hong Kong etc. The remaining 69 million travel to other parts of the world.”
Thus there is a huge potential for Sri Lanka to attract this 69 million Chinese tourists who travel to other countries, Dr. Kohona added.
Besides, the present Government expects to reach USD 10 billion in tourism revenue by 2025. Chinese market is a potential revenue source to reach this target as well.
Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kirmali Fernando, who was also present at the discussion stated, increasing Chinese tourist arrivals from 200,000 to 300,000 pax in the near future out of the 169 million Chinese tourists is quite a possible target.
Thereby, she insisted that it is essential to understand the Chinese market. Chinese tourists prefer their own culture and language very much. They enjoy their own food; not interested in trying different food and look for certified hotels.
“We must prepare for post COVID tourism operations; promote longer stays for them as usually they are limited to four to five day tours in Sri Lanka. They travel mainly to Kandy, Sigiriya and to whale watching points; they might be wanting a bit of a tour.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Kohona highlighted the fact that the use of technology; electronic media, social media is essential to promote Sri Lanka to the Chinese market. 60 per cent of the Chinese belong to the 18-45 year age group; they are the social media addicts and they look up destinations to travel. “This is where Sri Lanka Tourism needs to focus. Not only Government’s tourism authorities, but also each and every stakeholder in the industry should have a holistic approach to reach the market strategically.”
“Second most essential fact is that we need to service them in the Chinese language, Dr. Kohona added.
“The availability of websites, tour packages in Chinese Language is definitely a pull factor for the Chinese market. Chinese like to spend on travel, because they don’t have anything to spend more on in their own country; their accommodation is provided relatively cheap by the Government. Food is cheap, healthcare is cheap and education too is also cheap.”
Referring how language is important to promote tourism, Fernando stated how the Authority worked with the Thai Ambassador to Sri Lanka, to provide the live telecast of Kandy Esala Perehara in Thai language. “Similar things needed to be done with the Chinese market.”
Both Dr. Kohona and Fernando highlighted the fact that we should give the Chinese a quality service. The authorities must make sure not to permit illegal temporary Chinese visitors to play the role of guides to their own nationals. Local guides should be taught Chinese and trained accordingly to handle the Chinese market.
(Pic by Akila Jayawardana)