Chinese tourists visiting Sri Lanka since January this year has seen a mediocre increase compared to last year and this may be having a negative impact on the island's lucrative tourism industry.
According to statistics from the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), Chinese tourists increased sharply in September last year and till December has recorded a triple digit growth percentage when compared to the previous year.
Statistics have shown that more than 13,000 Chinese tourists arrived in the country in September last year, a 129.4 percent growth compared to the previous year. October recorded a 120.7 percent growth with 11,900 tourist arrivals, while November witnessed a 125.3 percent growth and December recording a 120.4 percent growth.
However the numbers recorded a sharp decrease since January this year with only an 8.9 percent growth being recorded during the month. February was the only month that performed well with 27, 425 Chinese tourist arrivals, a 165.8 percent increase, mainly due to the traditional Chinese New Year. The numbers dropped once again in March with only 13,975 being recorded during that month, while April recorded 13,790 and May 12,173.
Some of the Chinese tourists who have visited Sri Lanka have explained that the sudden downward trend in tourist arrivals may be due to the lack of facilities available for them and also the heavy traffic noted in most of the tourist spots on the island.
Li Ming, who had arrived in Sri Lanka from the Chinese province of Sichuan, and had traveled to "World's End," a famous tourist spot in the country, he wasted nearly four hours on a 200 km road stretch from Kandy in the Central Province, mainly due to overcrowded roads.
Another Chinese tourist, Zhang Liang said he was highly inconvenienced by the heavy traffic between tourist spots and complained that Chinese tourists had been robbed several times in the past, which had created paranoia about crime among travelers.
Furthermore, Chinese tourists have also complained of a lack of Chinese-speaking tour guides who can communicate with the travelers about most of the scenic spots on the island.
Many travelers also said that infrastructure and road facilities have to be developed and more hotel rooms have to be created to cater to the increasing number of Chinese tourists arriving on the island nation in the future.
According to the statistics from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, since the end of the 30 year-long conflict in 2009, Sri Lanka's tourism industry had witnessed a booming development. So far, China has become the fastest nation of tourists to visit Sri Lanka. Last year, Sri Lanka received 1.5 million tourist arrivals and earned 1.7 billion U.S. dollars from tourism. The Tourism Authority has set a target of 2.5 million tourist arrivals by 2016 due to a positive outlook of Chinese tourists arriving in the country.