In focus: Rich Chinese tourists

Caribbean destinations must learn how to market to affluent Asian travellers, authority says

The Caribbean has an opportunity to bring in ultra-high earners from China.

But destinations must focus on the right people and understand the market completely, said Pierre Gervois of China Elite Focus Ltd.

“If you have the key to unlock what is the mind of the Chinese traveller, you will win.

“But you can’t do this by using the same techniques that you would in the US or Europe,” said the travel expert, who works in Shanghai.

Chinese culture is not similar to that in the Caribbean, United States and European markets, so it is essential to figure out how to deal with, influence and market to potential Chinese VIP guests. By 2020, said Mr. Gervois, China will have 100 million outbound travellers, the highest in the world. In 2009, 50 million travelled, a figure that is increasing annually by 20 per cent.

“They travel the world to be seen with other Western people. They want to meet other exclusive tourists.

“They don’t like Western food and are intensely proud of the Chinese culture and language,” revealed the travel professional.

Very wealthy

According to his statistics, each very wealthy individual spent $6,000 each on a visit to the United States, so there are huge opportunities for the retail industry to position the Caribbean as a super-premium destination for the discerning traveller. Other draws include gambling, golf and VIP experiences.

Sounding a cautionary note, Mr. Gervois said that the Caribbean travel sector cannot rely on help from the Chinese government, who are focussed mostly on their own economic development.

Better to have a field approach that will target the individual traveller, working with private companies.

The Chinese market is as big as 1.5 billion people, added the chief executive officer.

“The Caribbean has a huge opportunity with wealthy Chinese tourists. Luxury hotels, excellent shopping opportunities as well as wealth management services, everything is perfect for the new generation of rich Chinese tourists.

“The wedding industry has also a gold mine with Chinese couples.

It’s time now to attract them in the various Caribbean States,” Mr. Gervois previously told reporters.

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