Pierre Gervois ‘ Speech at Caribbean Tourism Organization Leadership Conference, Barbados, October 10, 2010

Caribbean destinations must learn how to market to affluent Asian travellers, authority says.

The Caribbean has an opportunity to bring in ultra-high earners from China.

But destinations must focus on the right people and understand the market completely, said Pierre Gervois of China Elite Focus Ltd.

“If you have the key to unlock what is the mind of the Chinese traveller, you will win.

“But you can’t do this by using the same techniques that you would in the US or Europe,” said the travel expert, who works in Shanghai.

Chinese culture is not similar to that in the Caribbean, United States and European markets, so it is essential to figure out how to deal with, influence and market to potential Chinese VIP guests. By 2020, said Mr. Gervois, China will have 100 million outbound travellers, the highest in the world. In 2009, 50 million travelled, a figure that is increasing annually by 20 per cent.

“They travel the world to be seen with other Western people. They want to meet other exclusive tourists.

“They don’t like Western food and are intensely proud of the Chinese culture and language,” revealed the travel professional.

Very wealthy

According to his statistics, each very wealthy individual spent $6,000 each on a visit to the United States, so there are huge opportunities for the retail industry to position the Caribbean as a super-premium destination for the discerning traveller. Other draws include gambling, golf and VIP experiences.

Sounding a cautionary note, Mr. Gervois said that the Caribbean travel sector cannot rely on help from the Chinese government, who are focussed mostly on their own economic development.

Better to have a field approach that will target the individual traveller, working with private companies.

The Chinese market is as big as 1.5 billion people, added the chief executive officer.

“The Caribbean has a huge opportunity with wealthy Chinese tourists. Luxury hotels, excellent shopping opportunities as well as wealth management services, everything is perfect for the new generation of rich Chinese tourists.

“The wedding industry has also a gold mine with Chinese couples.

It’s time now to attract them in the various Caribbean States,” Mr. Gervois previously told reporters.

Source: Compass Cayman

Caribbean’s huge opportunities with wealthy Chinese tourists

Tourism has been identified as a priority area for co-operation between China and the Caribbean, but the region may have to wait a while before seeing tourists arriving en masse from that Asian market. Nonetheless, with China’s population standing at 1.6 billion people, Barbados is still expecting a boost to its tourist sector by promoting itself to Chinese travellers as a desirable destination.

Deputy Director-General of the Department of American and Oceanic Affairs in China’s Ministry of Commerce, Xu Yingzhen, recently suggested that it may take some time for Chinese tourism to the Caribbean to really take off. She was at the time responding to a question from the Barbados Advocate on the status of promised tourism co-operation between China and CARICOM countries at the Ministry’s Beijing offices. Xu’s statement was confirmed by figures from the China National Tourism Administration, which ranked the top ten destinations for Chinese tourists as Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Russia, Singapore, Australia, the US and Malaysia.

However, according to a Barbados Tourism Authority official, this does not necessarily mean that Barbados will have to wait on a more even distribution of wealth in China before it sees an increase in arrivals from that Asian country. Bernard Phillips, National Co-ordinator of the local planning committee for the Barbados World Expo exhibit, clarified that Barbados’ strategy is to target China’s more well-off travellers. His comments came three days after Xu’s press conference in an interview with this newspaper on the opening day of the World Expo in Shanghai.

He further pointed out that even the smallest percentage of the massive Chinese population would be a boost to the Barbadian tourism sector. He indicated that though Barbados may seem far away from China, direct connections through major cities such as London and New York make it quite accessible to the affluent Chinese traveller. Furthermore, with the US being a popular destination for the Chinese, he suggested promoting Barbados as an additional stop, inviting tourists to come down to the island for a few days as part of their vacation in the West. Referring to the popularity of cruises among Chinese travellers, he also mentioned marketing the option of home porting in Barbados.
Indeed, Xu Yingzhen had acknowledged that there was some measure of tourism travel from China to the Caribbean and assured that the region’s markets were still being explored. She also expressed confidence that as personal income increases, there will be growth in the number of Chinese setting their sights on Caribbean countries as a tourist destination.

In the meantime, the groundwork is being laid to boost Chinese tourist arrivals to Barbados. Xu stressed that tourism co-operation was a top priority in China-CARICOM dialogue, recalling that all Caribbean countries that have established diplomatic relations with China have been listed as approved tourism destinations for Chinese citizens.

Barbados does in fact enjoy Approved Destination Status, which means that Barbadian tour companies can promote and market Barbados as a tourism destination to Chinese tour operators, who in turn can organise and advertise tours to the island.
In 2005 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China and the Ministry of Tourism of Barbados on the Facilitation of Group Travel by Chinese Tourists to Barbados.
Meanwhile, at the second China-CARICOM Trade and Economic Co-operation Forum held in Xiamen, China in 2007, the then Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi pledged that they would be looking to implement tourism agreements to encourage more Chinese citizens to visit Caribbean countries.

According to Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, who will be a speaker at the Caribbean Tourism Organization Leadership Strategy Conference, October 8-12 2010 in Barbados “The Caribbean has a huge opportunity with wealthy Chinese tourists. Luxury hotels, excellent shopping opportunities as well as wealth management services, everything is perfect for the new generation of rich Chinese tourists”

Mr Gervois added “The Wedding industry has also a goldmine with Chinese couples. It’s time now to attract them in the various Caribbean States. The well known website www.marrycaribbean.com has already a Chinese version and it will help to achieve this goal”


Source: The New Chinese Tourist, October 2010 Issue