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06 April, 2016 10:04 AM Source: Financial Times - Sri Lanka
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China’s status as the biggest source market for Sri Lanka tourism by February was short lived as India has regained the title in March, though industry expects higher spending arrivals from the Asian dragon to be more beneficial.

With 58,269 tourists in the first two months, China became Sri Lanka’s main market for the first time as against  the 55,454 haul from India. This was possible by a surge in Chinese arrivals amounting to 32,186 in February whereas India produced only 26,559.

However in March arrivals from China lagged to 19,645 whilst India generated a high 30,170. This performance put first quarter arrivals from India to 85,624 whereas China moved to second place with 77,914.

Growth of the Chinese market was nevertheless a high 46.6% whilst Indian growth was 32.2% in the first quarter.

China had considerably narrowed the gap with India this year. Last year, India, which has been the biggest market for Sri Lanka for a considerable time, produced 316,247 tourists, up by 30%. Arrivals from China rose by 68% to 214,783.

The industry is of the view that Chinese tend to spend more than the kind of Indian tourists Sri Lanka currently attracts. Nevertheless, the profile of tourists Sri Lanka attracts overall from both China and India needs to be improved so that the country will benefit from high spending holiday makers.

Sri Lanka tourism in March achieved the third consecutive month of over 190,000. According to Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, in March arrivals amounted to 192,841, up by 23% and the first quarter figure was 584,818, up by 22%.

February 2016 saw a record 197,697 arrivals, second best after the highest ever haul of 206,114 achieved in December.

Western Europe remained the biggest source region with 207,195 arrivals in the first quarter, up by 22.4% whilst in March arrivals amounted to 70,000, up by 22.6%.

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