Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Zhongshan Municipal Tourism Bureau of China recognizing the importance of further tourism promotion on friendly exchanges and cooperation between Sri Lanka and Zhongshan City in China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the tourism promotional initiatives between the two parties.

The Parties agree to enhance mutual understanding and friendship through strengthening regular information exchanges, support each other’s tourism promotion events to increase popularity of tourism destinations, promote and organize local tourists to visit each other cities, commence regular / charter flights to Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake and Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport at Mattala and to enhance mutual understanding and friendship through strengthening regular information exchanges, holding meetings and publishing tourism information through each other’s websites and magazines.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in this regard by Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Mr. Bashwara Gunarathna and the Deputy Director General of Zhongshan Municipal Tourism Mr. Dong Zuwen during a press conference held at Taj Samudra Hotel , Colombo . The China- Sri Lanka Friendship Association has coordinated the event between the two countries in order to make it a success.

After signing the agreement the two parties have expressed their views highlighting that the newly signed agreement has put the foundation to a greater travel and tourism development between China and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has already become a popular travel destination among Chinese travellers . The new agreement will further enhance the travel and tourism opportunities and increasing the number of Chinese travellers to Sri Lanka.

Some of the policy decisions made with the support of Chinese government such as removing exist permit, agreement to promote 100,000 tourists to Sri Lanka etc. have contributed to increase the travelers from China. Further the two governments signed agreements to promote Sri Lanka through major Chinese Travel Media , as a result some of the leading Chinese TV channels such as China Travel Channel , Outlook Traveller China, CCTV 6 and Print media visited Sri Lanka totaling up to 56 media personalities. Sri Lanka Tourism also brought down many Chinese Travel Agents and tour operators from various cities to create awareness on the destination aimed at attracting prospective travelers.

Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka is on a steady rise at the moment and has recorded a significant growth in year 2014 reflecting the effectiveness of the promotional campaigns executed in year 2013 onwards . During October 2014 Sri Lanka Tourism received their 100,000th Chinese tourist with a growth rate above 150% compared to last year.The latest jump of shows encouraging signs as the Government of Sri Lanka is campaigning vigorously to capture a slice out of the growing Chinese outbound tourism market. (KH)