Dionne Holder, and her husband, Dirk Ilmstadt??

A mere three weeks after Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was in China calling for the forging of strong tourist links with that country, Barbados will soon be welcoming a group of visitors from Beijing.

Come next month, the 16 member party will arrive here from China to participate in the Crop Over Festival.?? The group, which will be led by Barbadian, Dionne Holder, and her husband, Dirk Ilmstadt, who live and work in Beijing, represents seven nationalities – Chinese, Dutch, German, American, Philippino, Mauritian and Turkish. Most of them have made China their home.

According to Ms Holder, who hails from Cliff Cottage, St. John, "the visit is designed to further promote Barbados as a tourist destination for Beijingers, other Chinese nationals and expatriates in China, who are interested in travelling to this country. It will also offer great exposure to a more diversified cross-section of visitors from Asia, and we want to use the Crop Over Festival to showcase this," she explained.

Ms Holder has been working with this country’s Ambassador in Beijing, Sir Lloyd Sandiford, and the Barbados Embassy there to facilitate the trip, which officially kicks off on July 22 and continues until August 5.

"During our stay, we intend to enjoy the best of what Barbados has to offer, including cross-country tours, catamaran trips around the island, dining in Oistins, visiting Harrisons Cave and jumping in a band on Kadooment Day, among other activities. It will be a trip of a lifetime for the group, which comprises mainly close friends and family members," the Barbadian/Beijinger promised.

Only recently, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart was promoting the idea of Barbados-China tourism, and advocating a possible air services agreement in the near future to further facilitate this. He indicated that Sir Lloyd would be concentrating his energies in developing a tourist link with that country, which is said to have some 50 million persons travelling each year. ????

The Prime Minister said then: "if Barbados could attract just a small percentage of that 50 million, then it would solve a lot of our problems."

The Barbados Tourism Authority and the National Cultural Foundation are expected to assist in the group’s programme of activities.??

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