Jameson Wong, Director Business Development for the Asia-Pacific region at ForwardKeys, a travel data company, told the Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference held here that the number of Chinese visiting Sri Lanka had grown by 29 percent in the year-to-date.
He said Russian travelers to Sri Lanka were also rising while the overall number of tourists visiting the island had grown at double the rate of international tourist arrivals to the Asia-Pacific region.
The two-day Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference concluded in Colombo on Tuesday with several of Asia's leading hotel investors from 19 countries discussing the investment potential of Sri Lanka and other destinations around the Indian Ocean.
Data from ForwardKeys demonstrated that Sri Lanka had achieved a 12-percent growth in visitor arrivals by air during the past year, more than double that achieved by the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
Several serious investors, including a delegation from China, expressed enthusiasm for opportunities in Sri Lanka, citing its tremendous variety of attractions, such as ancient temples, wild elephants and unspoilt beaches, all within close range of each other.
The Sri Lankan government, keen to attract international finance, announced a series of tourism development zones and President Maithripala Sirisena at the launch of the conference on Monday, promised the next three years, 2017-2019, would be investment years with special concessions to overseas investors.
Sri Lanka's tourism industry has witnessed a boom in the recent years following the end of a 30-year civil conflict in 2009, with India and China becoming the leading markets with the most number of tourist arrivals.
More than 20,000 Chinese tourists arrived in Sri Lanka last month, up 19.8 percent from the same period last year.
An estimated 1.8 million tourists arrived in Sri Lanka last year, contributing 2.98 billion U.S. dollars to the government revenues.
The government expects to attract at least 3 million tourists by the end of this year, and it has set a target of 4 million by 2020.