|Left to Right: WHL.travel CEO, Rob Shortland, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation's Tina Kae and Pacific IslandsTrade and Invest's Investment Programme Manager, Tim Martin helping accommodation owners online for free.|
Launched earlier this year, the project, developed by the Forum Secretariat’s Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I), in partnership with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) aims to get as many accommodation providers as possible set up with a professional online booking enabled website. The Cook Islands and Tarawa in Kiribati have been set up as pilot destinations.
Owner of the Sunny Beach Lodge in the Cook Islands, Aroha Ramea describes the project:
“For me the benefit of this programme is that we got a better online presence and unlike other website designers we get better access to our site so we can make changes ourselves.
Some of the small accommodators here in the Cook Islands can’t afford the initial set up of a website and this programme is free in terms of the design and launch of a website which would otherwise be too expensive for them.”
This online marketing and distribution program will stimulate growth in terms of accommodation bookings, filling a gap in the distribution chain for SMME operators and helping to reach the global market. The direct booking facility is complemented with channel management tools to enable third party distribution when needed via sites such as Wotif, Booking.com, Expedia and others.
Later, it is planned to supply all participating accommodation providers with integrated booking-capable Facebook pages and enhanced TripAdvisor listings. The costs for the photo shoot, set-up for the new web sites with booking engine, the channel management and the social media have all been covered by PT&I and SPTO, with participants responsible only for their web hosting costs.
The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, in recently launching the 2012 edition of “Investment Opportunities in the Pacific Islands”, described such initiatives as influential in the creation of greater international opportunities for the region’s businesses.
“Our Leaders have recognised the important role of the private sector in the region, and wemust continue to support private sector development in the Pacific in pursuit of sustainable economies and communities, and to improve lives of Pacific peoples,” Mr Slade said.
To date, the program has produced 31 live websites for Cook Islands properties, many of which have already begun to take online bookings. It is expected that ten more Cook Islands websites will be able to go live over the next month, along with the thirteen websites being built for properties in Tarawa.
The PT&I have a MOU with the SPTO to work in partnership to increase investments in the tourism sector for the Pacific Island Countries.
“The MOU between PIFS and SPTO, from which this program emanates, continues to deliver practical programs which drive sales of accommodation providers and attract investment into the tourism sector for Pacific Island Countries. This strategic alliance between two regional organisations highlights the outcomes that can be achieved when regional organisations work together for the benefit of the private sector,” said Forum Secretary General, Mr Slade.
For more information on this project, please contact Hilary Taylor Nichols, Tourism Promotion Manager at Pacific Islands Trade & Invest, firstname.lastname@example.org