- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 27th July 2016
- Arrival Numbers, Caribbean, cruise tourism, direct flights, Jamaica, Visa Policy
Similarly to many worldwide destinations, Jamaica is anticipating an increase in Chinese tourist numbers following a successful start to the year which saw a five percent increase in year-on-year arrivals from China between January and April 2016.
While the 3,254 Chinese arrivals during this period pale in significance to the combined figure of 773,108 tourists to Jamaica of all nationalities – itself a 2.2 percent year-on-year increase – there is large potential for significant growth if the country’s tourism sector can leverage itself effectively.
A significant recent development from which Jamaica can benefit greatly is the introduction of the first direct flight connection between the Caribbean and Mainland China, Air China’s thrice-weekly service between Beijing and Havana, which launched in late December 2015. As is the case with European destinations, Chinese travellers flying to long-haul destinations will look to visit as many countries as possible when flying to Cuba, offering Jamaica an unprecedented opportunity to benefit from this influx of high-net-worth tourists from China. Additionally, the rapidly-growing popularity of cruise tourism amongst Chinese outbound travellers offers the perfect opportunity for Jamaica, and other Caribbean destinations, to lure this target group.
A key advantage Jamaica hold here is its visa-free entry policy for Chinese nationals – an opportunity afforded to Chinese passport-holders by only a small number of countries – which represents not only a practical advantage for attracting this growing market segment, but also serves as a well-received welcoming gesture to travellers who enjoy being treated as well as, or even better than, tourists from other countries.
Nevertheless, since Chinese outbound travellers wishing to visit the beach can simply take a cheaper, short-haul flight to Thailand, Malaysia or South Korea, Jamaica must sell itself to the China market in a different manner to potential visitors from Europe or the United States. Given that a typical trip to the Caribbean for a Chinese tourist will last 11 days and cost around USD 8,100, these travellers are more eager to enjoy as many experiences as possible within a short period of time, rather than spending their limited annual leave relaxing by the sea.
With a number of similar locations in the region, it is important that Jamaica emphasises unique characteristics that makes it stand out from its competitors. As well as traditional cultural and historical highlights, Jamaica has a number of products that can be easily adapted to suit the needs of Chinese tourists.
Chinese travellers, for example, enjoy purchasing premium-quality local produce as presents for friends, family and acquaintances back home; high-value coffees and Jamaican rums would be well-regarded as exclusive and exotic products that suit China’s generous gift-giving culture.
Furthermore, up-close dolphin encounter programmes would represent an unparalleled opportunity to experience wildlife first hand, and can be modified to involve less swimming for more risk-averse Chinese customers; selfies with such fascinating creatures would make any visitor the envy of Chinese social media.
Lastly, in order to place the county on the map of Chinese tourists, Jamaica can use its significant pop culture footprint to forge a narrative for itself that sets it apart from other Caribbean countries. James Bond Beach, for example, provides a clear point of reference for the Chinese, who would take delight in bragging to their friends about having visited a location with such a famous connection. Themed photo opportunities would help boost its attractiveness too! Moreover, while Jamaican reggae music is not well-known in China, details of the global success of local stars such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh plays well into Chinese people’s interest in anecdotes involving anything that is the most famous and best-selling etc.
If Jamaica is willing to carefully research its potential Chinese customers and make the necessary adaptions to its tourism products to suit this unique market segment, then the country is well-positioned to significantly grow its number of Chinese inbound arrivals in the near future. Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett’s scheduled promotional campaign in China, as well as his plans to establish a craft institute and hospitality school, show that Jamaica is already taking a step in the right direction.
COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute provides expert insights into the worldwide developments of China’s outbound tourism market. As Chinese outbound tourists are travelling to a large range of destinations, our publications cover a number of different regions. Important Chinese visitor activities are analysed, and detailed insights are presented.
With COTRI’s insights you can create a successful business strategy with in-depth market insights, comprehensive qualitative analyses, and future prospects. The recently published Spring 2016 Edition of the COTRI Market Report features in-depth analysis of the developing trends in Chinese outbound tourism, supported by a wealth of qualitative and quantitative statistical research.