Chinese business leaders look to Jamaica

Some of China’s top movers and shakers in travel and investment met at the World Travel Awards Olympic VIP Lounge, the Westin Beijing Financial Street, to hear about Jamaica’s tourist attractions and its investment potential.Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism (pictured left), opened the seminar, whetting the audience’s appetite for the Caribbean island. This was then followed by Jason Hall, manager of the Jamaican Promotions Corporation for the Latin America, Caribbean and the Emerging Markets.

Mr. Hall (pictured above right) spoke about the strategic geographical importance of his country. Logistically it is ideal for shipping, being at the crossroads of the Americas - one hour from Miami and three hours from New York.

With its well-developed infrastructure, airports, roadways and ports for both cruises and shipping, it’s not difficult to get a sense of what Jamaica is about or a sense of its potential. No wonder they are leaders in tourism in the Caribbean and their economy is going from strength to strength.

With athletes that are the envy of the world, most notably 100m Olympic Gold mediallist and World Record holder, Usain Bolt, Jamaica has forged a reputation as the sprint factory of the world. Its economic growth is racing almost as fast as its sportsmen and women.

Pictured above: Zachary Harding, Deputy Director of Tourism Jamaica, with the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, and the world most beautiful woman, reigning Miss World, Zi Lin Zhang of China.


BTN: What’s the aim of today’s presentation?

JH: We are setting up a business seminar targeting 40 Chinese companies to come and get an overview of what Jamaica has to offer in terms of investment, as well as to showcase some of our key exports by way of rum, coffee and some of our culinary items.

It’s a business seminar where we are familiarizing them with the terrain, and creating some awareness. One of our main problems here is that there is very little known about Jamaica, other than our athletes.

BTN: Yes, a lot is known about them.

JH: A lot is known about them already. And a lot more will be known about them!

BTN: What do you hope to achieve by having a presence here in Beijing over the Olympic period?

JH: Well, this is part of a five-year programme started in 2005. We had a joint Caribbean, Chinese trade and economic corporation forum held in Kingston. We subsequently held a second forum last year. And we will be building a relationship with China to promote trade and investment opportunity attracting Chinese investment to Jamaica for the export of Jamaican products to China.

Specifically we are looking at promoting high-end, high-value, low-volume products, naturally we wouldn’t be able to meet all the demand of the Chinese, on a number of ends, but we have a unique opportunity to position our products at the top end of the spectrum and this is what this is all about.

In terms of investment we have had quite a lot of Chinese investment which has been mainly infrastructural but we are now looking to direct it more specifically into hotel resort development, alternative energy programmes and agricultural.


CLIMATE: Jamaica’s average annual temperature is 28¡C.  A tropical climate prevails inland, but temperatures can drop to 10¡C on the highest mountains.  Northeast trade winds and mountain breezes keep the temperature pleasant along the coast.

LANGUAGE: English, and English patois.

TOURISM: Stunning beaches and a relaxed friendly atmosphere have made Jamaica a popular holiday destination for Hollywood’s elite and UK royals since the 1950’s. Famous former residents include Johnny Cash, Noel Coward, Errol Flynn and Ian Fleming. Fleming wrote the classic James Bond novels in Jamaica at his home, Goldeneye, now a world-class resort.

ACCOMMODATION: Jamaica boasts more than 26,000 guest rooms, including five-star resorts and hotels; all-inclusive resorts; boutique hotels; private villas; small inns and guesthouses; condominiums; spa resorts; golf and tennis resorts; and convention hotels.  An additional 15,000 rooms are expected to be available by 2012.

AIR SERVICE TO JAMAICA: British Airways offers a service from London Gatwick to Kingston three times weekly. Virgin Atlantic recently launched a service from London Gatwick to Kingston, twice weekly. Virgin also offers a service from London Gatwick to Montego Bay twice weekly. First Choice offers a service from Birmingham, London Gatwick and Manchester to Montego Bay.

PORTS & HARBOURS:  Cruise ship ports are Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Kingston.

GETTING AROUND JAMAICA: Scheduled air service is available between Kingston and Montego Bay. Limousines and air-conditioned coaches are available, and local bus service operates between villages, towns and cities. Several reputable car rental companies operate in Jamaica.

PEOPLE: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set a new world record for the 100m this year. The previous record-holder was another Jamaican, Asafa Powell.

POPULATION: Estimated at 2,804,332 (June 2008), Jamaica’s population is a multi-racial mix including African, European, East Indian, Chinese and Middle-Eastern.

RELIGIONS: Protestant 62.5%; Roman Catholic 2.6%; other religions 14.2%; no religion 20.9% (2001 census).

GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION: Independent since August 6, 1962, Jamaica is governed by a constitutional parliamentary democracy. The Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) currently holds the seat of government, with the Honourable Bruce Golding in office as Prime Minister.

GEOGRAPHY: Jamaica is the third-largest English-speaking Caribbean island. Almost half of this mountainous island is over 1,000 feet (305 meters) above sea level.  Blue Mountain Peak is the highest point at 7,402 feet (2,256 meters). Jamaica has a lush terrain and a dramatic coastline, with valleys, cliffs, caves, bays, coves, reefs, mineral springs, waterfalls and some 120 natural rivers. 

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS: Sugarcane, bananas, coffee, citrus fruits, vegetables, ginger and cocoa.

DID YOU KNOW? Over 252 species of bird can be found in Jamaica. Of these, 27 are found nowhere else, including the national bird - the streamer-tailed hummingbird or doctor bird. The notorious pirate Blackbeard was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica. A Jamaica Clipper took part in the Round the World Yacht Race for the first time this year. February is Reggae Month in Jamaica.