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Despite challenges, visitors increase three percent

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 8, 2009) – Despite the high cost of fuel and the onset of the global economic crisis South Pacific tourism set another record in 2008.

The regional agency fostering tourism,, reports the number of visitors in 2008 increased by 3 percent to more than one point three six million.

The CEO of, Tony Everitt, says the growth demonstrates resilience, but warns that this year will be challenging, with Australia forecasting a 5 percent decline and New Zealand ten percent.

He says the industry in the South Pacific would be wise to brace for declines of a similar magnitude.

There was some variability in the 2008 figures across the region.

Niue, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga showed good growth.

Fiji recovered from its 2007 decline to set a new high of nearly 600,000 visitors, while Tahiti experienced a double-digit decline largely because its main markets are long haul and was so most affected by the oil price spike.

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