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( Posted on November 5, 2014 )

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Zhongshan Municipal Tourism Bureau of China recognizing the importance of further tourism promotion on friendly exchanges and cooperation between Sri Lanka and Zhongshan City in China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the tourism promotional initiatives between the two parties.

The Parties agree to enhance mutual understanding and friendship through strengthening regular information exchanges, support each other’s tourism promotion events to increase popularity of tourism destinations, promote and organize local tourists to visit each other cities, commence regular / charter flights to Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake and Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport at Mattala and to enhance mutual understanding and friendship through strengthening regular information exchanges, holding meetings and publishing tourism information through each other’s websites and magazines.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in this regard by Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Mr. Bashwara Gunarathna and the Deputy Director General of Zhongshan Municipal Tourism Mr. Dong Zuwen during a press conference held at Taj Samudra Hotel , Colombo . The China- Sri Lanka Friendship Association has coordinated the event between the two countries in order to make it a success.

After signing the agreement the two parties have expressed their views highlighting that the newly signed agreement has put the foundation to a greater travel and tourism development between China and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has already become a popular travel destination among Chinese travellers . The new agreement will further enhance the travel and tourism opportunities and increasing the number of Chinese travellers to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Tourism carried out several major promotional campaigns in China by identifying it as a major emerging market. The strategic promotional campaigns of Sri Lanka Tourism were designed on the instruction and direct guidance of the Minister of Economic Development, Hon.Basil Rajapaksa, using innovative tools and methods which were far away with traditional promotional methods executed previously. Accordingly, Sri Lanka Tourism carried out aggressive mega promotional campaigns in many emerging markets including China in year 2013 and 2014 in order to increase awareness, product knowledge on the destination.

During the mega tourism promotional campaigns in China, Sri Lanka Tourism launched a Bill Board Advertising Campaign in the city of Beijing, going parallel to a series of other promotional activities such as promoting Sri Lanka through Light box advertising, print media advertisements , Radio jingles ,Web sites ,PR campaigns to create awareness.

The BillBoard campaign is the first ever promotion of its kind ever to be executed in Chinese market at this scale. The LED backlit hoarding screens will be displayed in over 21 strategic locations in Beijing , These bill locations showcasing major tourism attractions in Sri Lanka including history and culture, beaches, wildlife, festivals, ayurveda and spa, gem & jewellery that are of interest to the Chinese travelers. Meanwhile Prominent places in 18 subway railway stations in Beijing have been identified to promote high spots of tourism attractions in Sri Lanka through this campaign.

A major Bus branding Campaign has also been launched parallel to the advertising promotions for a 06 months period which is active in china to this date. The Bus Advertising Campaign which was conducted with the branding of 300 buses among the Chinese public living and visiting cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chendu and Guangzhou. This campaign was further extended to year 2014 as well.

Sri Lanka Tourism also launched a major promotional campaign in Shanghai in 2014 and an advertising campaign in Shanghai city covering outdoor hoardings, Radio, print media, websites which is on going in the Shanghai city currently, multiplying the effect generated by Beijing campaign.

Some of the policy decisions made with the support of Chinese government such as removing exist permit, agreement to promote 100,000 tourists to Sri Lanka etc. have contributed to increase the travelers from China. Further the two governments signed agreements to promote Sri Lanka through major Chinese Travel Media , as a result some of the leading Chinese TV channels such as China Travel Channel , Outlook Traveller China, CCTV 6 and Print media visited Sri Lanka totaling up to 56 media personalities. Sri Lanka Tourism also brought down many Chinese Travel Agents and tour operators from various cities to create awareness on the destination aimed at attracting prospective travelers.

Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka is on a steady rise at the moment and has recorded a significant growth in year 2014 reflecting the effectiveness of the promotional campaigns executed in year 2013 onwards . During October 2014 Sri Lanka Tourism received their 100,000th Chinese tourist with a growth rate above 150% compared to last year.The latest jump of shows encouraging signs as the Government of Sri Lanka is campaigning vigorously to capture a slice out of the growing Chinese outbound tourism market.

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