There have been over one million Chinese "visitors" to Barbados during the past three months, with another four million expected by the end of October.

Word of this comes from Marketing Executive of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Bernard Phillips, who explained that although not physically coming to our shores, these "tourists" have had a taste of the Barbadian experience, by visiting the BTA’s booth at the 2010 Shanghai Expo in China.

Attractions such as road tennis, cricket, golf, dry surfing, limbo dancing with Cheryl Grazette and Bajan delicacies compliments of local chef Peter Edey, have all provided the flavour of a Bajan vacation. Harrison’s Cave, the Parliament Buildings, the various festivals, and the sugar industry are some of the other aspects of Barbados depicted in the pavilion.

And, according to Mr. Phillips, there has been "very positive feedback" to the displays. "In relation to tourism, there is the total Barbados experience in the pavilion. Visitors are attracted to come here and they spend lots of time here. ??Many visitors have indicated an interest in visiting Barbados and many people are asking additional questions about Barbados and that is a good indication. We are creating awareness, because many people had not heard about Barbados before … but now it can become top of mind," he stated.In addition, he noted that several participants from the 200 countries and organisations at the Expo have also been visiting the booth, and, have been expressing an interest in coming to Barbados.

The Marketing Executive made it clear, however, that the BTA would "not expect?? overnight, thousands of Chinese to be swarming over Barbados; but we are here planting a seed, we have to water it and I am sure in the medium term we will see the benefits".

He also pointed out that the Authority had been corresponding with a number of tourism operators which, he said, was critical. "We met with over 20 tour operators and had very productive meetings and we will have ongoing discussions. We will also have seminars for travel agents, education in and outside of the booth to educate the travel trade about Barbados as a tourism destination. So, we are not only educating the visitors, but the travel trade as well," the official stressed.

The educational sessions being held in China for the travel trade will continue in Barbados in September, with a familiarisation visit hosted by the BTA as part of its ???Come, See and Believe’ promotion. ??Mr. Phillips indicated that the tour operators would be able to experience Barbados for themselves, which, he believes, "puts them in a better position to come back here [to China] and sell Barbados as a destination".

The Marketing Executive also revealed that the BTA was working on its website, which would be up and running shortly in mandarin, a move which he described as being "key to communicating with the travel trade in China".???? ?????????????????????? ??

The BTA’s main objectives for participating in the Expo which started May 1, and ends on October 30, are to promote Barbados as a high quality tourism destination, promote it as a place for investment, promote its goods and services and further strengthen relations between Barbados and China. The theme of the Expo is "Better City, Better Life".??

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