In a clear sign of regaining tourism in the island nation following the launching of tourism ministry’s promotion programmes including the latest nautical tourism initiative, China is to open a new market for Chinese cruise ships in Sri Lanka.
This was an immediate reaction of the China’s latest action to support the country to overcome the current challenges by expanding its assistance for the revitalizing of foreign exchange earning sectors including tourism.
Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong today assured President Ranil Wickremesinghe that China would continue to extend its support to overcome the current challenges faced by Sri Lanka.
They reviewed the progressive bilateral & multilateral negotiation on the debt issue of Sri Lanka and denounced misinformation by foreign media on China.
“All ingredients already provided by nature, it is time, Sri Lanka is to take a special interest in emphasising that Sri Lanka really concentrate on developing the Nautical Tourism as a special niche in its new phase of Tourism Development”, official sources said.
Tourism Ministry also explores the possibility of partnering top blue-chip companies to enter the lucrative 40 billion dollar cruise line business that is estimated to carry 22.3 million passengers, with the market growing at 3.2% in volume.
The Sri Lanka Embassy in Beijing says that it is actively exploring the possibility of Chinese cruise ships and yachts visiting Sri Lanka with a view to attracting more Chinese tourists to the island nation.
Sri Lankan Ambassador, Dr. Palitha Kohona has had a very successful virtual meeting with the Vice President of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA), Zheng Weihang, on 23 November 2022.
Vice President Zheng said that Sri Lanka will be promoted as a new market for Chinese cruise ships.
On 15 November, he had attended a conference of Chinese cruise ship operators, where he formally proposed that Sri Lanka be designated as a destination for cruise ships after the travel restrictions are relaxed.
Vice President Zheng added that CCYIA plans to organize exhibitions of Sri Lankan products in Shanghai (Nov 2023), Shenzhen (Nov 2023), and Haikou (Apr 2023) and the association will also organize exhibitions and sales outlets on Chinese cruise ships to promote Sri Lankan gems, tea, artifacts and other products.
He had proposed creating four/five Sri Lankan cruise itineraries. Ships will dock at Sri Lanka’s ports for a day and give the passengers the option of taking tours in the region close to the port thus engaging land operators as well.
He specified that the CCYIA will work with the Embassy to promote Sri Lanka at cruise-related conferences Sri Lankan Ambassador responded that the Embassy will also assist with these goals actively.
Sri Lanka has three well-established ports for cruise ships: Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee. Dr. Kohona stated that there were many cruise visitors from Europe before the pandemic, and recently welcomed the Cruise ship VIKING MARS with 900 tourists on board.