COLOMBO, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka is stepping up its campaign for attracting Chinese tourists by engaging with travel agents and participating in Chinese travel fairs, the External Affairs Ministry said here on Thursday.
The Consulate of Sri Lanka in Chengdu promoted Sri Lanka tourism at 17th International Travel Fair which was held in Chongqing, China.
Chongqing is one of the four municipalities under the direct administration of Chinese Central Government with 33 million of population.
"Living in an inland city of China, Chongqing people were highly attracted by beautiful beaches and other travel and tourism resources of Sri Lanka. Leading travel agencies of Chongqing and Southwestern China are looking forward to organize their visitors to Sri Lanka," the ministry said in its press release.
Sri Lanka Consul Sumudu Walakuluge met with the Vice Mayor of Chongqing Municipal Government and the officials of Chongqing Tourism Bureau.
The Chongqing authorities assured their support to promote Sri Lanka among travel loving people of Chongqing.
Chinese tourists to Sri Lanka have increased by an impressive 84.4 percent in July compared to the same period last year.
Chinese arrivals that were at 1,966 in July 2012 grew to 3,626 last month, which is an increase of 84.4 percent, data released by the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority (SLTDA) noted.
During the first seven months of 2013 arrivals grew from 11,588 in the same period last year to a significant 20,208, which is a 74.4 percent rise.
The numbers are indicative of steps taken by the Sri Lankan government to increase awareness of the tropical island as a destination with plans to sponsor 100 Chinese travel agents this year.
The Economic Development Ministry has also been keen to invite media crews to do shows on Sri Lanka with a dozen teams visiting the country since December 2012.
Since the end of a three decade war in 2009, Sri Lanka's tourism industry has boomed attracting over 1 million tourists in 2012.
It has set a target of 1.25 million for 2013 and hopes to attract 2.5 million tourists by 2016.
The industry passed 1 billion U.S. dollars in revenue for the first time in history last year.