The Ministry of Tourism partnered with the private sector to host senior managers from 12 leading Chinese travel agencies on a familiarisation visit to The Bahamas.
The objective of the trip, which was organised with help from Air Canada, Atlantis, Grand Hyatt Baha Mar and Grand Isle Resort, was for these agents to gain an understanding of the destination and connect with Bahamian industry suppliers so that they could create customised travel itineraries for their visiting Chinese clients.
The activities began with a dinner hosted by senior officials of Atlantis. Joy Jibrilu, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation's director-general, and Paul Strachan, its senior director, were also in attendance and conducted video interviews with Tourism Today.
Mr Strachan said: "This trip is very important because we are now re-engaging with Chinese travel agents and consumers so that we can increase visitor arrivals to The Bahamas from China. While they were here, we showed them what our country has to offer so that they can create vacation packages to promote and sell to their clients."
During the seven-day trip, the Chinese delegates conducted site inspections of various hotels and resorts; participated in cultural, historic and family attractions; and experienced authentic Bahamian cuisine in Nassau/Paradise Island and Exuma.
The group travelled to Exuma on Bahamasair and participated in a full-day excursion to the Exuma Cays. The excursion included celebrity private island home sightings, a stop at Thunderball Grotto for snorkelling, a visit to Compass Cay for swimming with nurse sharks, and stops at other islands where they explored and fed giant iguana lizards.
There was also a stop at Big Major Cay, home to the swimming pigs, where participating travel agents were able to swim and play with the residents.
Zhang Hong, founder and general manager of Sparkling Tour Travel, said: "It's actually my first time to The Bahamas, but my company, Sparkling Tour, a leading high-end operator in China, started to promote the beautiful destination five years ago. We had learned that Chinese customers very much liked island vacations.
"After they visited beautiful popular islands in South Asia, they expressed that they would like to find and experience something new. So, from then on we started to promote The Bahamas. Now I think your beautiful destination is becoming more popular in the China market."