Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation, Dr. Donna Hunte-Cox, welcomes Dionne Holder and her husband Dirk Ilmstadt on arrival at the airport.

Visitors for this year’s Crop Over Festival are coming from as far as the Orient, and the annual cultural celebration promises to be even better, particularly for one Barbadian/ Beijinger?? who is back home to enjoy the celebrations.

Dionne Holder, a Barbadian who lives and works in China and who is bringing a 16 member group from Beijing, arrived in the island last night, ahead of the main group that comes in next week.

She was met at the airport by the Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Dr. Donna Hunte-Cox, and representatives of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) and the Barbados Government Information Service.

Ms Holder, who was accompanied by her German-born husband, Dirk IImstadt, said she was "delighted to be back home, particularly at this time, to participate in Crop Over, and to showcase to my friends, who will all be arriving over the next 10 days, what our festival represents. This is trip that should offer real possibilities at furthering China/Barbados relations, mainly as they relate to tourism from China and cultural exchanges with that country."

She disclosed that she planned to use this occasion to meet with officials of the BTA and the NCF and initiate meaningful dialogue to further develop the efforts and the links being made by this country’s diplomatic mission in China.

Ms Holder was full of praise for the Barbados Embassy in Beijing, which she said was helpful in facilitating the group’s visit.

Several activities are planned for members of the group during their time here; and Ms Holder is expected to meet with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the Ministers of Tourism and Culture, and her new Barbadian Member of Parliament, Mara Thompson.

Last month, during his official visit to China, the Prime Minister said Barbados would be aiming to attract to these shores even a small percentage of the estimated 50 million Chinese who travel each year.

During that trip, Mr. Stuart also identified the clear possibility of enhanced cultural links and cooperation in that area.

At the airport last evening, the NCF’s CEO, Dr. Hunte-Cox, said she welcomed the presence of visitors from as far as China to the festival, and expressed the hope that there would be many spin-offs that would redound to this country’s benefit. She indicated that she would be in discussion with Ms Holder to see if they could attract an even bigger group from China for next year’s Crop Over festival. "Hopefully, this could be the start of bigger things to come," she stressed.

Dr. Hunte-Cox and a local, cultural team of artistes and performers were in China last summer, where they represented Barbados at the world-class exposition – Shanghai 2010, and held talks with their Chinese counterparts on cultural matters, and explored the likelihood of exchanges between the two countries.

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