Plans to Increase Chinese Arrivals Highlight New Source Market for Vanuatu
The first official visit of Chinese tour operators landed in Vanuatu this week, with a delegation of ten influential figures from the Chinese travel industry visiting major tourist sites across the country. Coordinated by Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO), the visit marks a combined effort to grow tourist arrivals to Vanuatu from the world’s fastest growing source market – with 100 million outbound Chinese tourists having already travelled globally this year.
In 2013, 90 percent of Vanuatu’s tourists will come from Australia, New Zealand or other South Pacific islands, a region with a combined population of less than 30 million people. However, global tourism trends are changing and the Pacific is seeing increasing competition. The Pacific islands’ share of the Australian holiday market has decreased 16 percent in the past decade. At the same time, 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 Maldives. “VTO is always looking to emerging markets and establishing contacts to take tourism to the next level,” says VTO’s Marketing Manager Alan Kalfabun. “Focusing on a niche market is a priority, and this famil with China was organized with this in mind”. The tour operators visiting Vanuatu this week were responsible for 1.25 million outbound tourists in 2012. This high calibre group had the opportunity to meet and discuss potential tour packages with local inbound operators and accommodation providers throughout their visit. “With an increasing GDP, the number of Chinese outbound tourists continues to rise. Not satisfied with regular destinations, these tourists want to explore new and exciting destinations like Vanuatu,” says President of China Environment International Travel Service, Mr Zhong Hui. An influential figure in the Chinese travel industry, Mr Zhong said he was “very confident in Vanuatu attracting more and more tourists from China.”
Supported by the International Finance Corporation and South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the visit is a key 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 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 market niche interested in adventure and culture-based travel,” said Dina Nicholas, Team Leader of IFC’s Pacific Regional Tourism Program. “As the market grows, the tourism industry in Vanuatu will adjust to a relatively demanding group of new tourists.”