Vanuatu Looks To Increase Tourist Arrivals From China

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High-profile Chinese travel industry delegation arrived last week

By Glenda Shing

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 27, 2013) – It appears there is great potential to increase the number of Chinese tourists coming to Vanuatu. A significant coup for the tourism business in Vanuatu, the first official visits of Chinese tour operators arrived in Vanuatu last week, including a delegation of 10 influential figures from the Chinese travel industry.

Coordinated by the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO), the visit marked a combined effort to increase the number of tourists to Vanuatu from the world’s fastest growing market, which counts over 100 million outbound Chinese tourists having already made trips to international destinations this year.

In 2013, the VTO recorded that 90% of tourists coming to the country originate from Australia, New Zealand, or other Pacific islands, however, global tourism trends are changing and the Pacific is witnessing the changes.

China became the number one source market in the world in 2012 and is now a major source of tourists for destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Bali and the Maldives. "The VTO is always looking to emerging markets and establishing contacts to take tourism to the next level, and focusing on a niche market is a priority, therefore we have China in mind," VTO marketing manager, Alan Kalfabun said.

The tour operators visiting Vanuatu this week were responsible for 1.25 million outbound tourists in 2013. This high profile group had the opportunity to meet and discuss potential tour packages with local inbound operators and accommodation providers.

The president of the China Environment International Travel Service, Zhong Hui said, "With an increasing GDP, the number of outbound tourists continues to rise. Not satisfied with their regular destinations, these tourists want to explore new, exciting destinations, like Vanuatu."

Supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the visit is a stepping stone in developing a marketable product for the rapidly-growing Chinese outbound market. The visit follows last month’s first ever Chinese media visit to Vanuatu, where a group of notable media representatives travelled throughout the country, capturing footage for the promotion of Vanuatu in China.

"Tapping the China travel market is a tangible goal for Vanuatu. However, Vanuatu is not a low cost destination, and visitors from China are likely to represent a well-heeled, well-traveled niche market, interested in adventure and culture-based travel.

"As the market grows, the tourism industry in Vanuatu will adjust to a relatively demanding group of new tourists," Dina Nicholas, team leader of IFC’s Pacific Regional Tourism Program commented.

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