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.