Lt. to Right: Sharon Parris-Chambers (Caribnewsroom), Dr. Adam Wu, Benson (Seasonal), Delegate, Marlina Charley (Interpreter)
China’s presence in the Caribbean is expanding significantly and has made a strong showing with twenty delegates at the recently held Caribbean Tourism Marketplace held January 29-31, 2019 and staged at the Montego Bay Conference Centre.
Our AccessJamaica representative met several Chinese delegates on the Marketplace floor, some were engaged through a Jamaican interpreter, while others like Benson, owner of Seasonal Company, from Chengdu, Sichuan ventured to speak directly about his interests as a delegate and as a potential investor.
Dr Wu is no stranger to international conferences and is tasked with leading MICE delegations, WTM, FITUR, and Health Tourism Conferences in Europe. He indicated during our interview China’s interest in the Caribbean travel marketplace is strong and growing. He could not accommodate all the delegates who wanted to come noting that Chinese delegates prefer Jamaica and its diversity of offerings, Bob Marley and Usain Bolt brands, Blue Mountain coffee, music and culture, amongst other things.
The Ministry of Tourism staged the Tourism Opportunities Workshop post Marketplace at the Convention Centre, February 1 to answer questions pertaining to doing business in China. It was well attended with approximately 140 persons including Chinese buyers. Speakers included: Hon. Edmund Bartlett, CD, MP, Minister of Tourism; Danovan White, Director of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board and their agencies, Dr Adam Wu, CEO, China Business Network, and Andrew Wynter, Executive Director Passport Immigration and Citizenship Services Agency. Carey Wallace, Executive Director, Tourism Enhancement Fund chaired an open panel discussion on Next Steps and Synergies based on the discussions held throughout the day to help guide next steps for local tourism industry players wanting to do business within the Chinese outbound travel sector.
Minister Edmund Bartlett, said “China has emerged in a short time as the leading outbound destination in 2018 eclipsing the USA.” Further he emphasized “Projections are that by 2030 China will be at 400 million; nobody will be able to catch you [China], except India. We have to watch India. China is part of the ‘Zone of Growth’ where South east Asia has been growing the fastest. The Americas are lagging in growth. The more mature economies are also projected to be sluggish in growth. These are going to be fast growing and will provide opportunities for outbound tourism: India, China, Vietnam Indonesia, Cambodia, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. We have to prepare ourselves in this region to absorb the flow of Tourism.”
Dr. Wu prepared suppliers and investors with practical detailed guidelines for doing business with the Chinese, who by 2020 will have a US$429 million spend. The Chinese is the biggest luxury consumers today and spend lavishly on gifts, travellers have disposable income of about US$6,000. Many countries are changing Visa policy to attract Chinese and Jamaica is one of them. Mr. Wynter informed that Chinese nationals who travel to Jamaica for tourism purposes for 30 days or less do not require a Visa. “On the flip side, the Government is working to have visa restrictions for Jamaicans travelling to China waived,” McNeill said. (2014)
Dr. Wu said Chinese people in general rely heavily on their cell phones. There is no Google, so the preference is We Chat and Ali Pay for all purchases. They must have Internet access where ever they go.
He explained that waiting 30 mins. for a meal is unheard of in China. Chinese love to eat and when they enter the restaurant, they expect a steaming bowl of soup which they prefer to slurp loudly with pleasure as is their custom. Minister Bartlett was spot on in responding to the psychographic profile of the Chinese visitor when he spoke on Gastronomy – “Based on our experience with a very affluent and influent Chinese community in Jamaica, Jamaica’s cuisine is a confluence of different cuisines. We are able to provide dishes that are more palatable than other destinations.”
The Tourism Minister did not skip a beat when outlining Jamaica’s readiness for the Chinese outbound travel market. He included five key areas: 1) Gastronomy 2) Health & Wellness- Indigenous Jamaican nutraceuticals and rich biodiversity contributes the special wraps and oils from tropical plants for spa application.
3)Entertainment, Sports & Culture: “We have grown so close because of the Usain Bolt experience that Jamaica and China share a little piece of historic development. Every time people think of world records, they think of the Bird’s Nest” Stadium [Beijing]. 4) Knowledge. “What we are doing here is part of that Knowledge experience and Meetings, Incentives, Convention & Exposition (MICE) sector. Tourism diplomacy is at the heart of SDG17 requirements, established by the UN for Tourism to be an instrument of peace.
Through travel, exchange and use of technology we can develop and foster relationships which will better help us better communicate with out Chinese partners.” 5) Shopping. “I know you [Chinese delegates] love shopping. We are reviewing our own legislation. Later this month we will have a new regime for beautiful shopping arrangements.”
Source: Sharon Parris-Chambers
Photo Caption: Chinese Tour Operators (Buyers) at Marketplace 2019
Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism (White shirt) and Danovan White, Director, Jamaica Tourist Board in center (Next to the Minister)
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