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Sri Lanka eying China tourism as Covid controls relaxed

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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is watching the progressive dismantling of China’s coronavirus controls and the planned re-opening of the country’s tourism sector, officials said.

China said it is scrapping quarantine for inbound visitors from January 08, after abandoning its ‘zero covid’ policy earlier in the month and will also relax outbound tourism.

“China will resume outbound tourism for Chinese citizens in an orderly fashion, starting with a pilot scheme,” the country’s embassy in Colombo said in a message.

“In 2019, the number of outbound tourists from China reached nearly 155 million.”

In 2019 Sri Lanka welcomed 167,863 tourists from China making it the third largest generating market.

“China is an important and large market for Sri Lanka. The prospect of it opening up for outbound is therefore good news indeed,” Nishad Wijetunga, President of Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) told Economy Next.

Sri Lanka could expect numbers similar to what we received from China pre Covid in the short to medium term. This will no doubt be a welcome boost to the industry.

When asked if Sri Lanka would see Chinese travelers soon, he said “There are various schools of thought but nothing concrete. It all depends on the Chinese Government.”

Nalin Jayasundera, Vice President of SLAITO said there was still no firm information on the re-opening or whether Sri Lanka would be on the list of countries designated for outbound travel.

“We don’t know if they will open up for all the countries at once so we have to see how it will go,” he told EconomyNext.

An official at Sri Lanka’s Tourism Promotion Board said they are going to hold discussion with the Sri Lankan Ambassador in China regarding the Chinese tourist market.

In November Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Beijing Palitha Kohona had met with the Vice President of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA) Zheng Weihang,

Related: Sri Lanka targets China cruises

He has formally proposed that Sri Lanka be designated as a destination for Chinese cruise ships after it opens the country for outbound travel.

He had proposed creating four/five Sri Lankan cruise itineraries.

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