Barbados is hoping to lure visitors from China as it seeks to overcome some of the challenges facing the tourism industry.
"I hope in the not too distant future that we will see China as a source market, further diversifying our opportunities and again strengthening the capacity of the sector to withstand what is happening internationally," said Tourism Minister Richard Sealy.
Sealy acknowledged that there had been a decline in visitor arrivals out of some source markets and the sector was also experiencing a decline in visitor spending.
"We have been going through a challenging period. And in the face of those challenges, we have to be very creative in terms of our approach to the particular situations," he said.
"Tourism is critical to the overall economic well-being of this country. We at the ministry, aware of the need to do things differently by providing the strategic leadership, are also looking at a number of initiatives that will strengthen this industry going forward," said Sealy.
Speaking at a church service marking the official start of the 2012 Tourism Week, Sealy said the industry continued to face challenges, but gave the assurance that creative initiatives were being implemented to ensure the sustainability of the sector.
He said that despite these challenges all is not gloom and doom for the industry.
"I think that there is a lot that we can draw encouragement from, because while we have seen some dips and declines, we have seen some pretty impressive increases in the Canadian and Caribbean performance, as we seek to do things differently in tourism," he said.
"We are looking at new niches and trying to get sports tourism taken to another level. We are trying to develop the heritage cultural and tourism niche. We are trying to develop the culinary tourism niche. There is a lot happening on behalf of the people of Barbados to ensure that we can sustain this industry," Sealy added.