Ministry Seeking Tourist From China

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December 03, 2008

Tourism Minister Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said yesterday he and his team are changing the way they market The Bahamas as a destination to Asian tourists and are looking to establish combination trips for visitors traveling to North America.

The idea is to include The Bahamas as a part of a travel package to the United States and Canada for business or leisure travelers.

Vanderpool-Wallace spoke to reporters outside of the Senate yesterday. He said tour operators view this move as an opportunity to earn more money.

The tourism minister recently returned from a five-day trade show in China, which he called "a very useful trip."

"First of all, we attended a trade show so it wasn't just China. It [included] all of the countries in the area, including all of the people who send large numbers of business and leisure travelers to the United States and Canada, basically North America," he said.

"Our strategy on China is a great deal different from some of our colleagues in the region. Anybody who believes that a large number of Chinese are going to fly over all of the other island destinations in their part of the world and fly to this part of the world and spend all of their vacation here . . . is not going to be that successful."

Vanderpool-Wallace said trade show attendees were "unanimously surprised" to find out just how close The Bahamas is to North America.

He said the opportunity for The Bahamas to build relationships has increased because of the trip.

"In fact, we have the first group of people coming here December 9 [and we'll] show them around and [show them] some of the things we have available. In fact, it's very important that we have the kinds of products in place that they're likely to be interested in," he said.

"There are communities that we are beginning to start programs with starting today to develop some programs where we're going to tap into some Chinese residents in Toronto, Vancouver and in Atlanta that we never had access to before."

Vanderpool-Wallace said the Chinese National Tourism Administration had a trade show with people from all over the world, including Florida.

"By the way, [Florida was also receptive to] what we were doing and talking about it quite well too because they themselves see an opportunity to make their own product that much more attractive by adding The Bahamas to their product, so that was a good part of the meeting too," he said.

"So, it was an opportunity for us to begin to test what we think is our best strategy in that part of the world . . .and it was extraordinarily well received."

Vanderpool-Wallace said targeting Beijing is very important.

"An enormous part of the reason why we planned the trip now is the capacity of our embassy in Beijing to provide Chinese visas to go to China," he said. "It was very difficult prior to that, so we hope to see some good coming out of that, and also it was good for the ambassador [Elma Campbell] to be involved in all of the promotions so that she has a good sense of what we're trying to do and also to engage people there in a much firmer way in terms of what we want to provide Chinese visitors to this part of the world."

By ROGAN M. SMITH

News date : 12/03/2008

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