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A perfect getaway-unique, affordable and not too far away

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2016-08-01 09:28

A perfect getaway-unique, affordable and not too far away

Sri Lanka attracts an increasing number of Chinese tourists who enjoy the country's landscape and sites of cultural heritage, such as Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, an old rock fortress and the ancient city of Polonnaruwa (above).[Photo provided to China Daily]

Yin Rui and his wife were very excited to see a lion in the forests not far away from their cross-country vehicle. In Sri Lanka's Yala National Park, elephants cast curious glances at tourists like the couple, and monkeys approach the vehicle to beg for food.

"It's like being in Zootopia. We loved the experience here. The locals are hospitable, honest and kindhearted," says Yin. The couple also went out to sea to watch whales.

In March, the 31-year-old from Xinyang, in Henan province, visited Sri Lanka with his wife for their wedding photo shoot. The 11-day vacation left an indelible memory.

"It was not uncommon to see Chinese tourists during our trip. Two of them even traveled with us for a few days and shared a chartered car with us," says Yin.

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, the country attracted more than 214,000 Chinese tourists in 2015, an increase of 67.6 percent over 2014.

China remains the second-biggest source of travelers for Sri Lanka, next only to India.

The country received nearly 1.8 million overseas tourists last year and aims to boost the number to 3 million in 2016 and 4 million in 2020.

"Chinese tourists enjoy Sri Lanka's good weather, picturesque coastline and cultural heritage. They love to see animals such as elephants, leopards and peacocks," says V. Ravindran, Sri Lankan Airlines' country manager for China.

In June, the company completed 11 years in the Chinese market.

It now operates 18 flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Kunming to Sri Lanka every week.

Speaking of how it caters to the Chinese market, the country manager says there is always a crew member from China on board to help communicate with Chinese passengers. The passengers can also watch the latest Chinese movies during the flights.

According to him, the peak season for the airline in the Chinese market is the Spring Festival holiday, summer vacations and the National Day holiday.

During short holidays such as the three-day Dragon Boat Festival, there is a slight increase in passenger loads because the Chinese now take extra days off and extend their vacations.

"It's also convenient to travel through Sri Lanka because the country is small," he says.

As for security issues, he says: "The airline attaches great importance to the safety of passengers. We try not to inconvenience them, yet at the same time ensure they are well protected."

Karunasena Kodituwakku, Sri Lanka's ambassador to China, says that the Sri Lankan prime minister's visit to China in April has strengthened China-Sri Lanka ties.

The two countries have a long history of cultural and trade exchanges.

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