International Finance Corp Helps Vanuatu Open Up Chinese Tourism Market

Effort aimed at 'the world’s fastest-growing outbound tourism and travel market'

Compiled by Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 10, 2017) – Becky Last, International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Tourism Operation Officer (Pacific), explains that, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has been working with the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) as part of the signed MOU partnership agreement for the last four years to grow the tourist market from China, with the goal of diversifying Vanuatu’s source markets into one of the world’s fastest-growing outbound tourism and travel market.

A workshop in Port Vila was recently held in partnership with the Pacific Trade and Invest (PT& I) and the VTO on attracting Chinese tourists including lessons learned in developing this emerging market.

“One of IFC’s plans for its tourism program is to help create new markets to boost economic growth.

“We recognize that the core markets of Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia are vital to the industry and should remain so.

“However, we saw that Vanuatu as a destination for tourists had a gap in support for long-haul activities. China has become the rising superstar of tourist travel with more than 130 million Chinese now taking holidays annually.

“As a partner with the VTO, we identified the need to develop this new market.

“This required extensive market research, investment and a pilot activity before the destination is able to measure progress and return on investment.

“This further supported the need for reassessing the china tourist market and the ground work needed to build market relationship and develop incentives for the industry and Government of Vanuatu for consideration on investment for the future.”

How did you support businesses in Vanuatu to tap into the market?

“We linked tour operators in Vanuatu to wholesale and retail travel agents in China by supporting sales calls and attendance at trade shows, fostering business to business links.

“We gave hotel and tour operators feedback from Chinese agents and guests to help them better cater to the needs of the market.

“We supported ten familiarisation trips to show agents in China the product in Vanuatu, while also offering training to local inbound operators on booking systems, operators, and resourcing. We designed packages specifically for the market that included local tours and accommodation options.

“Ensuring local tour operators are part of these packages is crucial to Vanuatu gaining value from this market.”

On the question of how did IFC support the promotion of Vanuatu in China, the answer was, “With the VTO we have trained over 400 sales agents and partnered with outbound and online retailers, Caissa, CYTS Sparkle Tour, CTS, and Tuniu to market packages. Currently, we’ve recorded 400 sales through a mix of online and traditional agents in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong. Packages focus on Mt Yasur volcano, Vanuatu’s unique culture, and local tours, and beautiful beach offering, branding it as a high value, adventure destination as distinct from Fiji.

“The volcano gives Vanuatu a unique selling point in the Pacific that is the number one attraction for Chinese tourists, along with cultural activities.”

What is your advice for tourism businesses who want to work with this market?

“It is essential that businesses hire Chinese staff to support their efforts, build networks and communicate effectively with this new market.

“Travelling to China to experience the culture and explore business opportunities will help operators better understand the market.

“Representing your product accurately and having local content is important.

“Lastly, producing collateral in Mandarin and taking steps to cater to this market, such as offering free wifi, bottled water, and Chinese breakfasts will help to meet their basic requirements.”

Asked what is the growth potential in China is, Becky Last explains that: “While the number of tourists is still small compared to arrivals from Australia or New Zealand, it is Vanuatu’s fastest growing market, with a year on year growth of around 34 percent.

“We estimate that around 60 percent are independent travelers with the remaining coming on small group tours.

“The advice we have from our partners in China is to grow the market slowly to ensure that the destination can adapt to the demands of the market.

“This sentiment was echoed at the workshop too by participants and presenters – Vanuatu requires managed growth over time and should consider learnings from other destinations such as Fiji and Palau.

“Chinese tourists are looking for authentic cultural and adventure-based experiences, so it is vital that Vanuatu needs to consider how they ensure that local tours, activities, accommodation products, and knowledge are involved in the business chain to offer this and benefit from the growth.

“It’s encouraging to see major hotels & resorts including tour operators are investing in attracting this market to build it further and we will continue to support the growth of this market through co-marketing partnerships to promote Vanuatu in China.

“IFC is not backing one option or operator for developing the air-route, as we firmly believe that the question of how Vanuatu develops its air-routes to China is one for the government and industry to decide.

“However, we believe that with current activities there is potential for China to become the third largest source market by 2020 without direct flights, a result which would bolster the prospects of tourism.”

Vanuatu Daily Post
Copyright © 2017 Trading Post Limited. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment