Looking East

Sri Lanka is hoping to attract more Chinese tourists to the tsunami-hit island with the introduction of direct air services to Beijing, a top official said Thursday. Sri Lanka is hoping to attract more Chinese tourists to the tsunami-hit island with the introduction of direct air services to Beijing, a top official said Thursday. Ceylon Tourist Board chairman Udaya Nanayakkara said he hoped that the number of Chinese holidaymakers visiting the island will triple to 30,000 this year, compared to 9,088 last year.

“With the introduction of direct flights from June, we will be able to get about 30,000 Chinese tourists this year,” Nanayakkara said.

He said the country had welcomed 2,800 foreign holidaymakers each day in March last year. But this year the figure had dropped to 1,500 as a result of the tsunamis which killed 31,000 people on the island on December 26.

However, Nanayakkara said they were hopeful the tourism industry would bounce back.

SriLankan airlines, which is partly owned and fully managed by Emirates of Dubai, announced earlier this month it will begin Colombo-Beijing services from June 17.

Traffic to the island had slowed a