Barbados has signed a visa waiver agreement with the People’s Republic of China, paving the way for this country to tap into the 70 million Chinese travelling market.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean and Chinese Ambassador to Barbados Wang Ke signed the agreement this morning at McClean’s office on Culloden Road, St Michael.
Three years ago, the two countries had signed a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and service passports.
Today’s pact extended the waiver to holders of ordinary passports.
“The Government of Barbados anticipates that this agreement will make Barbados a more attractive destination for some of the over 70 million Chinese tourist who are increasingly travelling beyond their country and region. This will assist in Government’s effort to diversify our tourism and contribute to strengthening the vital tourism sector and by extension the economy,” McClean said.
“It will of course now also be easier for Barbadians, who are known to enjoy visiting other countries, to travel to China for business or as tourists. This will serve to expand the opportunities for cooperation and friendship beyond official contacts,” she added.
In a written statement lauding the initiative, Barbados’ Ambassador to China Chelston Brathwaite zeroed in on the opportunities for Barbados to improve its technological proficiency.
“With this increased collaboration, Barbados will benefit in technical expertise and use of the new technologies in such areas as renewable energy and sustainable development. It has been proven that China’s technical expertise is at a high level and it is this expertise that Barbados as a country needs for its overall development,” Brathwaite wrote.
However, he warned those who market Barbados’ tourism that it was necessary to tailor the product to suit the new Chinese demographic that they hope to attract.
“The embassy, in its outreach to the Chinese public, has found that while there is much interest in Barbados and visiting the country, the lack of information, programmes and packages to attract Chinese nationals to visit Barbados is more of a stumbling block than the cost of travel and the limited airlift options that exist.
“It is well-known that the Chinese are going to great lengths and spending significant amounts of money to travel all over the world, but the destination must be prepared to adequately welcome them. We are aware that Chinese are seeking new and different cultural experiences and Barbados is an ideal place to provide the same,” he advised.