JO - Jamaica getting ready for Chinese visitors
Jamaica getting ready for Chinese visitors
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
JAMAICA, which was a year ago granted approved destination status from China, has started to put plans in place for the country to begin receiving, by early next year, some of the more than 19 million Chinese tourists who travel annually.
Deputy director of tourism David Shields said that since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last year February between both countries, the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) has been looking at establishing the framework for marketing Jamaica's tourism within China.
He said the MOU laid the basis for a number of things to be put in place from both ends, one of which has been the appointment of approved tour operators.
"We have spent the last year putting that structure in place, where we have the approved tour operators from the Jamaican end and twinning those with approved tour operators from the Chinese end," he said.
Shields told JIS News, the government's news agency, that within the distribution channel of travel from China, there were approximately 600 state-approved tour operators and it is out of this list that the JTB was seeking to establish those with whom Jamaica will form commercial arrangements.At the same time, he said that from the Jamaican end, the Chinese were looking at destination management companies, which are Jamaica-based and operated, to try and establish relationships between Jamaican entities and those Chinese companies.
"So we spent the year dealing with that. We also spent the year looking at the visa issues, primarily with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Immigration Department," he said.
In the meantime, Shields said that one of the main strategies being used in the bid for Chinese tourists was the incentive offer, with large groups seeing Jamaica as an incentive to their staff and customers. "So they'll arrange a tour to Jamaica as incentive for sale objectives, for meeting any particular target, so in a category it is referred to as the 'meeting incentive convention business' and those persons tend to move in groups, and that would fulfill the condition of the MOU."
In 2004, Jamaica participated in one of the largest international tourism events, when it attended the Beijing International Travel and Tourism Market (BITTM) in China.
"This was in fact before the establishment of the embassy last year, and proved to have been very useful for us from a tourism perspective, also in terms of Jamaica's understanding of the market and also from some indications of cultural activities and cultural levels," Shields said.
Meanwhile, the JTB official said the issue of airlift was being given priority to see the easiest way for the Chinese to get to Jamaica,
"The airlift situation is not seamless and although in the last year we have seen, for example, Continental Airlines starting non-stop service from Newark to Beijing and Air Canada doing service from Beijing to Toronto, the difficulty of the visa over the US presents a problem for the Chinese," Shields said.
For now, Chinese travellers coming to Jamaica do so through London, but Shields said the JTB was having dialogue with Air Canada to see if Toronto could become an ultimate gateway, as well as the Los Angeles gateway with Air Jamaica.
The JTB, he said, was also working with some other country partners, like Cuba on the issue of airlift. "We hope that the dialogue with our Central American partners will also bear some fruits in terms of twin destination travel to Jamaica," he added.