During the recent high-level visit, Communist Party of China Politburo member Yang Jiechi discussed with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and PM Mahinda Rajapaksa on tourism cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
Upon the request from Sri Lankan side to encourage more Chinese tourists to come after COVID-19, the Chinese senior official assured both President and Prime Minister of the island nation that Chinese leaders and Government attach high importance to the tourism cooperation between the two countries. Yang further stressed that China understand it is a top most concern for Sri Lanka and will keep this request under serious consideration. Amid COVID-19, the two countries both need to ensure proper health measures are in place before resumption of international traveling.
Tourism authorities and operators from our two countries might have further discussion on how to set up travel bubble bilaterally or regionally. Considering both China and Sri Lanka have successfully brought the pandemic under control, there is a very big chance for Sri Lanka to be among the first batch of destinations for Chinese tourists after outbound travel from China being resumed.
Recalling his good memories and feelings on traveling to the island, Yang Jiechi said: “When I first visited Sri Lanka in 1981 accompanying then Chinese Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Huang Hua, I was amazed by this beautiful green ‘gem stone’ in the blue ocean at an immediate glance through the window of Air Lanka flight. Sri Lanka is definitely of great potentials to attract more and more tourists from China.”
Over 260,000 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka in 2018, and the number decreased to about 167,000 in 2019 mainly because of the tragic Easter Sunday bombings. Overall, a total of 169.21 million outbound trips were made by Chinese tourists in 2019, up 4.5% from the previous year, according to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of China in February.