Tourist arrivals into Pacific Island countries are forecasted to reach 1.8 million in 2015, a growth of 19 percent over 1.513 million recorded in 2011. The expected contributors to this growth forecast include projected increases in room inventory (eg. new hotel developments), expected expansion in aviation, positive economic prospects of Australia and New Zealand markets, and increases in small and medium size (SME) tourism operators’ on-line development and marketing initiatives.
The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and its implementing partner, Hotel Link Solutions (HLS), have reached another milestone following the completion of the Digital Marketing workshops and SME Market Readiness Audits conducted a few months ago in Tarawa and the Yasawa Islands under Phase 1 of the SME E-Marketing Support Pilot Project funded by EDF10. This week, SPTO is proud to announce the launching of 11 new e-commerce enabled web sites for properties in Tarawa, and a further 13 in the Yasawa islands.
Due to difficulties with internet access and connectivity for some properties in the Yasawa Islands, the project has also assisted the Yasawa Tourism Marketing Cooperative (YTMC) with the development of their e-commerce portal which can handle bookings for its members with connectivity issues. “This is an excellent model developed by the project which can be deployed for use in remote and isolated areas where internet access and connectivity is an issue” commented Hotel Link Solutions Director, Mr Len Cordiner.
SPTO CEO Mr Ilisoni Vuidreketi commended this work for SME operators and is very pleased to see the growing interest in the use of online marketing tools and social media among participating property owners in these smaller member countries, in particular Kiribati.
Mr Vuidreketi said, “Tourism is a global business and with the advancement of ICT, every tourism operator must learn how to leverage ICT and use it as a platform to boost their international sales. I’m glad to see our member countries have done the right thing by encouraging local tourism businesses to adopt these effective online and social media marketing tools to help boost their sales and grow their business. I’m sure those properties not yet using the new e-commerce tools available will follow their peers very soon”
SPTO is now working closely with Hotel Link Solutions on a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) process to ensure that all the web sites launched become quickly visible to travellers on Google and Bing to facilitate bookings. In addition, the properties all have access as well to channel management tools when they are ready, to enable them to distribute to multiple online travel agents in the region such as Wotif, and Booking.com.