Chinese tourist number to Sri Lanka surges 56.6 pct in Q1

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The number of Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka has increased significantly in the first quarter of 2013 by jumping 56.6 percent from the same period last year, though overall figures have failed to impress, latest data showed here on Wednesday.

Statistics revealed that the first quarter numbers of Chinese tourists have risen from 5,334 last year to 8,353 this year, who is becoming the largest group of travelers to the island from East Asia.

Japanese tourists posted the second highest growth for the region by growing 21.4 percent to reach 7,239.

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

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

However, the overall first quarter results of tourism showed the lowest quarterly growth since 2011, which is recorded at 10.9 percent, bringing in a total of 288,798 tourists to the country.

The industry is seen losing its momentum, showing low percentage growth for the quarter as well as the lowest growth rate for a month recorded since 2011 for the month of March, statistics released by the Sri Lanka Development Authority (SLDA) showed.

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 for 2013 and hopes to attract more tourists in the near future.

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