KINGSTON — Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, says Jamaica should soon have direct flights to China, the fastest growing market for outbound travellers in the world.
The Ministry of Tourism reported Tuesday June 28 that China’s newly appointed Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Zheng Qingdian, gave a commitment to pursue the introduction of direct flights between Beijing and Montego Bay, during a courtesy call on the Minister at his Ministry in New Kingston.
The release from the Ministry said that Ambassador Qingdian expressed enthusiasm and delight at Jamaica’s prowess in sports and tourism, as well as its rich heritage and culture. He said he would be facilitating discussions with China Air to have the new flight arrangement implemented.
The Chinese diplomat also discussed with Mr. Bartlett investment prospects in tourism, and extended an official invitation to the Minister to meet with his counterpart in China in September, to explore areas for increased collaboration.
Mr. Bartlett expressed enthusiasm with the opportunities for greater collaboration with China, particularly in tourism.
“China represents one of the target markets for increasing tourist arrivals to the island, and establishing direct flights between us and them is a major step in having Chinese visitors coming here,” the Minister said.
Fresh from his trip to Russia last week and South America last month, Mr. Bartlett stressed that Brazil, Russia, India and China, commonly referred to as the BRIC countries, represent strong potential for growing visitor arrivals to Jamaica.
As a result, he said, these countries will increasingly become important points of focus for Jamaica’s marketing efforts.
Some 10,000 additional air seats have been secured to bring in visitors from South America, over the next six months. This is expected to boost arrivals from the usually colder southern continent during the summer period in Jamaica, which is traditionally the off season for the local tourism industry.
China is the top destination in Asia and the Pacific region, and the fastest growing outbound market in the world. China, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, is forecast to provide more than 100 million visitors for other destinations by 2018.
Chinese visitors are particularly attractive, as they are likely to spend during their travels, as indicated by statistics compiled by the World Travel and Tourism Council which show China’s expenditures on international travel growing by 21 percent in 2009.
By Balford Henry, JIS Editor & Reporter