Is Barbados special enough to attract Chinese tourists?

Chinese tourists at Cricket World Cup 2007

Chinese tourists at Cricket World Cup 2007

Bridgetown is a long way from Beijing!

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Much discussion has taken place over the last year or so about the importance of attracting Chinese visitors to Barbados, and few could disagree that it is a potential massive market that cannot be ignored.

Let us, though, take a minute to look at the practical reality.

Using Great Circle (shortest route by air) distances, Beijing is a mind-boggling 8,775 miles from Barbados. Shanghai is some 9,381. Even if current aircraft could fly those distances non-stop, it entails a minimum flying time of 17 to 19 hours and then there are all sorts of crewing and equipment challenges.

Air China is presently the only airline to operate non-stop services from Beijing to New York (JFK) with11 flights weekly by B777-200 aircraft and a flight time of around 13 hours. China Eastern Airlines operate Shanghai to JFK at least daily.

In an extensive interview recently, when questioned about direct flights into the Caribbean, Dr. Zhihang Chi, Vice President and General Manager of North America for Air China stated that was not an option. However, he said ‘that China’s flag carrier would instead be targeting more flights to North American hubs and striking up partnerships with local carriers to funnel traffic into the Caribbean’. 

Adding ‘that the airline has ordered an incredible US$10.7 billion worth of new aircraft that will help it to achieve this end’!

Since Dr. Chi took up his current post seven years ago, Air China’s traffic to North America has doubled. This to me seems our lowest risk option in partnership with JetBlue.

Another alternative could be the non-stop flights from both Beijing and Shanghai flown by Air Canada into Toronto, with possible connecting flights to Barbados.

But to further increase the odds of attracting more Chinese nationals, we have, in my humble opinion, to give them additional reasons to choose us in preference to other regional competitors. The key may be a cruise and stay campaign specifically targeted towards this market, especially with the smaller higher-end ships.

Secondly, we have to use this time to look at the obvious language and dietary challenges. With our close working relationship with the Peoples Republic and various mutual commitments to ‘build stronger linkages’, I am sure they could help establish a dedicated Mandarin learning centre for our hospitality industry.

Some major hotel brands like Hilton have already started back in August 2011, initially across 12 countries, training staff with their Huanying (literally translated welcome) programme, tailoring tastes and expectations towards Chinese guests while giving the lodging giant a distinct competitive advantage.

In 2012 the top 25 countries for arrivals from China, according to Euromonitor International were: 1) Hong Kong; 2) Macau; 3) South Korea; 4) Thailand; 5) Taiwan; 6) Singapore; 7) USA; 8) Japan; 9) Vietnam; 10) Malaysia 11) France (12) Russia 13) Germany 14) Switzerland 15) Australia; 16) Indonesia; (17) Austria; 18) Cambodia; 19) United Arab Emirates; 20) Philippines; 21) Italy; 22) Canada; 23) New Zealand; 24) United Kingdom and 25) Mongolia.

From these figures there is clear evidence that many Chinese tourists are willing to travel over vast distances, we just have to discover what, about the Caribbean, would especially entice them to our shores.

Maybe this is a task that could be better undertaken collectively by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, rather than by individual destinations with limited resources.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, China

14 responses to “Is Barbados special enough to attract Chinese tourists?

  1. MoneyBrain

    Cursory analysis tells us that they tend to travel in Asia but do venture to Nth Am and Europe. Going to to large countries is one thing as they are fully aware of the US or UK, BUT where the hell is Bdos????? Why would I travel 24 hrs to get here? Sun, sand, and surf are ALL available in Vietnam, Thailand, Phillipines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia et al. Since my wife is from Singapore, over the years I have been to the beaches in these countries and although I am Bajan can honestly say I would NOT leave Asia to spend a week or 2 in Bim. Why would I? A love of British colonial history?
    Longing to hook up with some “beachboys”? Please rationalise why China is worth investment of a limited Tourism Budget.


    no spells no.


    who the hell wants chinese tourist???????????
    they are comunist and the only ones that would come there are the slave masters from china as the people them selves could never afford it.
    and chinese do not like black people. google that.?you ever see a chinese tanning only some american nig lovers.skum.china what .
    ADRIAN did your grand mother that you say was a bajan have slaves???????????????????????????hummmmmmm



    i person flying anywhere for 5 to 8 hours is equivalent to that person driving their car for a year everyday as far as carbon pollution.
    work that out for your arrivals!


    oh yes their much cheaper and more beautiful islands much closer to china.
    thousands.barbados is tiny and getting dirtyier every day.

  7. Work harder!

    Personally I am happy to have tourists visit Bim from all over the world. China is an oppressive government but Chinese tourists are just people like any others and we should do our best to make them feel welcome and have a good time. For them it is a major investment in time and money to get to Barbados and it had better be a special vacation worth the extra investment for them or they won’t come.

    We are in serious trouble economically and I am for doing anything that will bring more tourists in from anywhere. I agree that we have to get the best returns on our tourism marketing investments, but we should also take some of the budget and set it aside for new ventures because you never know until you try.

  8. Green Monkey

    Will the Chinese tourists be willing to spend nuff, nuff money and endure nuff, nuff jet lag to travel 9000 miles, just so they can return home and brag to their neighbors that they spent their holidays in a far away ‘Concrete bungle’ called Barbados?

    ‘Concrete bungle’ near

    By Heather-Lynn Evanson | Sun, March 30, 2014 – 12:06 AM

    BARBADOS is headed to become a “concrete jungle” if the trend of cutting up arable land to erect buildings continues.

    This claim was made by historian Dr Karl Watson as he lamented the proposed development from St David’s in Christ Church to Six Roads, St Philip, and encompassing parts of Boarded Hall, St George, as well as what has been proposed for Kingsland Estates.

    He said the trend around the island to “cut up very fertile land for housing”, and turn it into “wall to wall housing”, was a “mistaken policy”.

    “I know there are people on the island who possess land and think the best return they can get for [it] is not to plant it or practise agriculture, but to put in roads, sub-divide it and sell it as individual lots,” he said.

    “[But] If we continue to sub-divide our best and most fertile lands and put houses on them the day will come . . . where every single thing would have to be imported because it will all be concreted from North Point to South Point and no land left for agriculture,” Watson said.

    Continued at:

  9. Paul Smithers

    Barbados overrun by hordes of Chinese tourists would be the final indignity. Perhaps we better prepare now by ordering new street signs in Chinese and converting the barbados dollar into yen. Poor Barbados has not suffered enough it seems.

  10. Sue

    When last in Barbados ( Dec.2013) As we waited for departure at Grantley, an aircraft arrived and it was 100 percent Asian folks who disembarked. I’m going to bet they were from China because many of them wore respiratory paper masks. I think those that want to will come. Just don’t let the businessmen start buying property. Barbados is Bajan. Please keep it that way.

  11. MoneyBrain

    Actually the Japanese are better known for their facial attire.

  12. Green Monkey

    Actually the Japanese are better known for their facial attire.

    If the wrecked and out-of-control nuclear reactors at Fukushima keep spewing out large quantities of radioactivity into their water and air, Japanese tourists might not be content to come just for a visit but want to stay.

  13. D Oracle

    I have a huge, nasty love rod the Chinese ladies will fill airplanes to come here and get…they will return home with Big Bamboo memories and I will have evidence it don’t go sideways but up and down like the rest of them.

  14. MoneyBrain

    @D Oracle
    Dem lil ting would ben up in pain—— TOOOOOO BIIIGGG!

    Too many beachboys may send dem back with more than they came wid eg AIDS, CLAP etc

    Dont focus pun the Chinese Ladies for revenue generation beachbros as there is already a deficiency of females there due to the one child policy and the Chinese males are already massively underserviced! Chinese guys working in Africa have been marrying African females—now that could be a serious mismatch in the satisfaction department???