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Capitalizing on tourism from China

Published: Sep 24, 2013

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Dear Editor,

Isles of June is Region Direct’s Asian consumer marketing campaign highlighting some of the very best attractions and experiences Bahamian tourism has to offer. After successful months of planning, Region Direct has evolved its Asian Isles of June consumer marketing campaign by some of the best and talented minds in the Bahamian tourism industry, with new advertising and marketing creativity. This first phase of the campaign builds on an already successful and established platform and takes it a step further by specifically focusing on quality, highlighting examples of some of the very best attractions and experiences that our tourism product has to offer, branding The Bahamas as a luxury touristic brand.

Together we can show the world why Christopher Columbus called the islands of The Bahamas “Isles of June”. Isles of June was designed to inspire Asian travelers; being something which could be updated as necessary to stay relevant in a highly competitive and fast-changing global tourism environment. Region Direct Asia strategy is a plea to the Bahamian industry and government to focus on increased returns from the tourism industry. To achieve the Asian tourism strategy, Region Direct will focus the majority of its global marketing resources on markets which represent the greatest potential for tourism growth. Region Direct will also target those emerging markets that have the strongest growth potential, and will continue to support the rest-of-world market.

Our strategy aims to ensure Bahamian tourism stays ahead of the game, identifying a clear direction for enhancing tourism business from Asia with a heightened focus on China. The strategy will focus on knowing the customer, a dedicated geographic strategy, ensuring we deliver quality Bahamian tourism experiences, a healthy aviation environment, and strong partnerships between government and industry.

A strengthening economy, mixed with an exponential rise in the number of millionaires, a rapidly expanding middle class, and better wages have led to a desire among the Chinese population to explore the world. And the resultant China outbound tourism market has become one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, showing significant potential for The Bahamas. China’s middle class and affluent travelers with their affinity with overseas travel are set to rapidly increase in 2013, with the wealthiest 26% percent of outbound tourists spending an average $7,032 on each trip per head – for a total spend of $160 billion.

This behavior is fueled by rising incomes, currency appreciation, an increasing number of international flights, a relaxation of visa restrictions and a growing desire to explore the world. An unprecedented boom in outbound tourism is taking place. Outbound tourists rose from 16.6 million in 2002 to 70.3 million in 2011, and are expected to rise to 82 million this year, up 17 percent. Those numbers are expected to rise to 200 million by 2020.

Despite The Bahamas receiving Approved Destination Status (ADS) from 2005, it has yet to take full advantage of the agreement that allows The Bahamas to be promoted in China as a tourist destination and for the organization of group travel from China. Given the Chinese propensity to gamble, The Bahamas has an advantage over other potential destinations in attracting the growing market of middle-class Chinese travelers. The Bahamas is described as a formidable game player in the Asian market amongst industry leaders, calling the position of The Bahamas exploring such markets long overdue. There’s a shared consensus that The Bahamas offers a better product when being compared to its competition, being a luxury brand with a credible reputation in China.

While sun, sand, and sea won’t be enough to sell the islands of The Bahamas in the Asian market, The Bahamas also suffers from a lack of awareness and direct airlift into the destination. It’s imperative that The Bahamas regains the title of being a safe and secure destination – that being priority to Asians picking a destination for travel.

The Bahamas performs resoundingly well in the areas of being world class and natural beauty, having rich history and heritage, spectacular costal scenery, a family-friendly environment, gambling and shopping, the best luxury accommodation and world-class brand names, a romantic destination, and great swimming beaches.

Region Direct Bahamas has received strong support from China’s tourism industry being commended for its strategy. The Bahamas Asia strategy will require a strategic execution and a healthy partnership with the Ministry of Tourism. Despite the absence of a recognized partnership between the Ministry of Tourism and Region Direct Bahamas, there remains encouraging news for our country’s number one industry.

As Region Direct continues to make the case for Bahamian tourism in Asia with very little resources, there’s much doubt amongst the Chinese tourism industry that it can be done effectively without the support of the Bahamian government. We will continue to promote and to bring about the awareness of the islands of The Bahamas, then pivoting to identifying the right product mix and the beginning of discussion for aviation development between Asia and The Bahamas.

Region Direct will continue to position both its company and The Bahamas for a rise in the Asian market. We will ensure that the Bahamian tourism product is displayed throughout China. It’s the hope of Region Direct Bahamas to launch our campaign Isles of June this year, making 2014 the year for Bahamian tourism.

– Latrae Rahming

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