Airlift is the key to Bajan hope for Chinese Tourists

Tourism MATTERS!

by Adrian Loveridge - small hotel owner

Its easy to understand why so many people get carried away in the flood to try and ensure that ‘we’ get our share of the the outbound Chinese tourism market. You only have to read some of the headlines like:

‘The Chinese are coming. By their millions. As tourists. And it will change our economy in ways that we cannot even imagine’ according to Tim Hughes a director of Australian based, Value Capital Management.

‘Chinese outbound luxury tourism in growing by more than 25 per cent each year’ and in 2011, 60 million Chinese tourists will travel abroad and spend more than US$50 billion’. source:  China Elite Focus website.

The World Tourism Organisation predicts that “China will have 100 million outbound travellers and become the world’s largest source of outbound travel in the world in 2020’.

In 2010 the US State Department of Commerce declared that ‘the average Chinese tourist spends US$7,000 per stay, more than any other nationality’.

I could go on, and on, but if only a small percentage of these predictions and statistics are, or become factual, its a market we cannot afford to ignore.

“Our biggest challenge of course is geography.”

Beijing is 8,775 miles away, Shanghai 9,381 and Shenzhen, China’s fourth largest city in terms of population, 9,939 miles, and these are the shortest Great Circle distances flying over the North Pole.

China already has a sub-tropical paradise on it doorstep.

Hanian Island offers most of the world’s leading brands of hotels including: Ritz Carlton, Le Meridien, Mandarin Oriental, Hilton, Marriott, Sofitel, Sheraton, Inter Continental, Crowne Plaza, Kempinski and Banyan Tree.

If they want a change of language and culture, Australia is just about the same travelling distance as Bridgetown is from London.

China has become Australia’s largest source market, recording 408,327 long stay arrivals for year ending September 2010, and contributing AUS$3 billion (about US$3.177 billion) to their economy. Growth has averaged nearly 8 per cent annually over the last decade. (source: Dept. of Resources, Energy and Tourism)

Airlift is clearly the key.

It would be wildly optimistic for us to believe that our Chinese friends would sit on a plane enduring a minimum 17 hour nonstop flight, so we have to look at other ways.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic service both Beijing and Shanghai from London, but overnights in both directions are required with a change of airport for connecting Barbados bound passengers.

So which carrier would be tempted to provide a better link between China and the Caribbean?

Distance, influencing the type of aircraft that could be used would rule out many airlines and lest we forget, several major carriers have ordered high capacity planes like the A380, which currently cannot be handled at the Grantley Adams.

The Prime Minister mentioned after his recent visit that Latin America was of special interest (my words) to the Chinese. Is there someway we can find a workable and viable smart partnership here?

I am sure its something that is going through the mind of the BTA’s aviation consultant and usually where there is a real opportunity, a solution can be found.


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, China

12 responses to “Airlift is the key to Bajan hope for Chinese Tourists

  1. Peltdownman

    Common sense would dictate that we shoudn’t be spending scarce resources on the Chinese tourist market just yet, purely because of the distance factor that Adrian mentioned. In due course, when the Chinese have saturated tourist destinations closer to home, much as the Europeans have saturated the Med., then they will seek more exotic destinations further afield. Because they will be experiencing the globalised world of chain hotels, the boutique style of hotel in Barbados will become more attractive. The other side of the coin is that European and North American travellers will eventually be put off by destinations in the Far East being overrun with Chinese tourists, and hopefully choose the Caribbean. Our resources should still be concentrated on those markets for the time being. China? Give it 10 years and then take a fresh look.

  2. Algernon Phillips

    So the A 380 can’t land at Grantley Adams, yet I have a clear memory of the C5A landing during the Reagan visit several years ago. Surely the 11,000 foot runway is not the issue; more likely the notoriously slow Barbadian clearance and customs procedures

  3. watcher

    There are visa issues that would be required to be addressed for the overnite destinations. If for example Toronto Canada was to be used since Air Canada offer flights to China and to Barbaods, visitors would have to clear immigration and customs at Toronto before headed off to a hotel. Presently, people from China who do not have a second passport such as British or Canadian would be required to get a visa from the Canadian Embassay in China before they would be allowed to enter into Canada. It is likley the same for the USA. It is not a simple matter of showing a valid passport and a ongoing airline ticket.

    While China maybe a valid market one day, the distance and complexities it presents should take it out of the “quick fix” category for tourism issues.

  4. RLL

    Anyone who thinks that the chinamen will come half way around the world to Barbados in great numbers is a fool or a deceiver.

    It’s not 17 hours, or 24 hours. It is closer to 40 hours flying time and stopover time to get to Barbados from anywhere in China. What have we got that is worth that trip and that someone else doesn’t have 1/2 here?

    Answer that question Mr. Prime Minister, because if you can’t its 100% BS you are saying about negotiating airlift. You can get to China from Barbados and vice versa right now. What do we have that makes that trip worthwhile for a Chinese family on holiday to surrender 4 days for traveling plus another 3 or 4 days for jet lag both ways?

    Give your head a shake man!

  5. RLL

    should have said “What have we got that is worth that trip and that someone else doesn’t have 1/2 way here?”

  6. VerygoodSir!

    This reminds me of the BLP’s Air India disaster. There were going to be thousands of tourists from India coming to Barbados after Cricket World Cup. LOL :–)

  7. what will they think of next

    I see that the ball has started rolling already, judging from an article in today’s Advocate at the top of page 4.

  8. what will they think of next

    How come it is such a stupid idea and the Jamaicans are, as we speak, actively pursuing air links with china?
    Are the Jamaicans smarter than we are? or do you think we should wait and piggyback on their efforts? It seems you don’t consider Bajans as being too smart.

  9. bumf

    I have had the wife’s cousin come to visit Barbados from China. It took two and as half days to get here and then there was the visa. There was no Barbados Embassy in China at the time so she had to FedEx her passport and other documents here. It took 5 weeks to process and then it had to be FedEx back to China.
    She enjoyed her 3 weeks here but said it was just too much trouble getting here to do it often.

  10. bumf

    Another problem comes to mind. How is immigration and customs going to deal with the influx of Chinese tourists. Very few Bajans speak Mandarin or Cantonese, when the wife’s cousin visited, she spoke Mandarin and Cantonese and fluent Spanish, yet the wife had to go into immigration at the airport to translate as no one there spoke even Spanish.

  11. Our leaders appear to be severely overwhelmed when they visit the big countries and shoot off without thinking. I recall during a visit of one of our Prime Ministers to either Malta or Cyprus, he was fascinated with a material used there to build houses, and call back to Barbados asking for a feasibility study……………..on the use of coral stone to build homes.

  12. Anonymous

    I mentioned about a year or more ago that the Brazil/Barbados fantasy would be a waste of time. I wouldn’t even comment on this one.
    Don’t waste scare resources.