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By Patrick Antoine Decloitre

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Feb. 14, 2008) - New Caledonia's arrivals for 2007 have again totalled just over 100,000.

The latest figures, which were published by local statistical institute ISEE earlier this year, place the tourism arrivals at exactly 103,363 visitors throughout last year.

Traditionally, the bulk of New Caledonia's visitors comes from metropolitan France, but also, regionally, from Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

The 100,000 mark has been a recurrent feature in New Caledonia's arrival statistics for the past five years.

For the past three years, tourism and hospitality stakeholders have tried to tackle the issue by holding roundtables locally known as "Assises" (sittings).

Some of the recurrent outcomes and recommendations have included the need to place an emphasis on a united front in terms of destination promotion.

In the past, New Caledonia’s three provinces (North, South and Loyalty Islands) had been promoting their respective destinations separately and sometimes competing with one another.

Earlier meetings have also estimated that New Caledonia should reach the ambitious target of 180,000 arrivals per year by 2015.

One of the preferred markets, stakeholders said, was probably the upper range of the clientele, because New Caledonia’s cost of living was relatively high.

The new approach comes as a result of a recent review carried out by consulting firm KPMG.

It recommended a more aggressive approach on overseas source markets and on the local scene, more investments in the hospitality industry.

KPMG mission leader Jacques Godron said these investments could materialise through scuba diving, eco-tourism, trekking, golfing.

But he also admitted the cost of living was currently a deterrent, as well as the cost of air travel to New Caledonia.

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