Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka increase greatly

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COLOMBO, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese tourists made the eighth largest number of arrivals for the first eight months of 2013 to Sri Lanka, latest data showed here on Tuesday.

According to the latest statistics released by the state-run Tourism Development Authority, 24,306 Chinese visited the island from January till August.

In August alone, 4,098 Chinese tourists visited Sri Lanka, which marks an impressive 73 percent increase from the same period last year.

The top 10 markets as of end of August shows that India continues to be Sri Lanka's biggest tourist market with 113,541 tourists, followed by the traditional markets--the United Kingdom and Germany, with 81,644 and 53,218 tourists respectively.

Also in the top 10 are France (43,328), Middle East (35,931), Maldives (35,290), and Australia (31,039), with the United States and Japan rounding off the ranking.

The numbers are indicative of steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to increase awareness of the tropical island as a destination. The government also plans to sponsor 100 Chinese travel agents this year.

The Economic Development Ministry has also been keen to invite media crews to publicize shows on Sri Lanka, with a dozen teams visiting the country since December 2012.

Since the end of a three decade war in 2009, Sri Lanka's tourism industry has boomed, attracting over one million tourists in 2012.

It has set a target of 1.25 million visitors for 2013 and hopes to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016.

The industry passed one billion U.S. dollars in revenue for the first time in history last year.

Editor: Yang Yi

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