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South Pacific Islands Still Appealing to Kiwi Travelers

July 26, 2017 Tourist Boards No Comments Email Email

A two-day regional roadshow aimed at showcasing the South Pacific Islands to travel specialists was held in New Zealand last week (July 11th – 12th).  The road show was coordinated by the South Pacific Association of National Tourism Offices (SPANTO), a collective membership of six (6) New Zealand based tourism offices from Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, New Caledonia, Niue and Vanuatu who have been operating for decades.

The SPANTO roadshow was focused on the South Island cities of Nelson and Blenhiem and hosted around 41 travel agents. This follows similar events in Tauranga, Timaru and Christchurch in May and June earlier this year which covered over 110 travel agents in these cities.

According to SPTO’s 2016 annual visitor arrivals report, New Zealand continues to be the second largest source of tourists into the Pacific region with 400,421 arrivals. This marked a significant 13.6% surge against the 2015 visitor arrivals. The solid growth reflects the high outbound demand by New Zealand residents with the main three destinations of Fiji, Cook Islands and Samoa driving the main growth out of this market and supported by rising arrivals to American Samoa, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

“These roadshows provide an opportunity to introduce and educate New Zealand travel agents on the great offerings of our unique island destinations through our accredited South Pacific Specialist online training program that offers travel agents the essential introductory tools to understand the various tourism products and services that are available throughout the South Pacific and also assist them to create the kinds of experiences their customers look for,” SPTO CEO Chris Cocker said.

SPTO this year introduced the ‘Hidden Treasures’ to the SPANTO roadshow that showcases the smaller island destinations of Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, and Federated States of Micronesia, Tuvalu, Tonga, Niue and American Samoa to the New Zealand travel agents.

“We received interesting feedback from the roadshow that the agents in Nelson and Blenhiem were unaware of many of the South Pacific Islands and were excited to receive updates of new tourism products and services especially those for the smaller Hidden treasures island destinations which many were unsure where they were located, with the exception of Niue and Tonga,” he added.

Travel agents showed interest in the South Pacific Specialist training program and were given an opportunity to win free major giveaways during the roadshows.

There were major prizes drawn at the event which included trips to Tahiti and the Cook Islands. Happy Aquarian from House of Travel Nelson won a trip for two to Tahiti which included return economy flights to Papeete courtesy of Air New Zealand.  An agent who had never been to Tahiti also before won a one night accommodation at Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, two nights’ accommodation at Manava Beach Resort & Spa Moorea and 2 nights’ accommodation at Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort.

Travel Managers, Yvonne Richards from Blenheim won a trip for two to the Cook Islands which included flights to Rarotonga courtesy of Air New Zealand, return airport transfers in Rarotonga, three night’s accommodation at The Edgewater Resort and Spa, two night’s accommodation at the Club Raro Resort, a spectacular overwater show at Te Vara Nui cultural center and and a BBQ Lagoon Cruise.

SPTO Chief Executive Officer, Chris Cocker highlighted the importance of partnerships with organisations such as SPANTO to continue to drive the awareness in the New Zealand tourism market on the South Pacific and to ensure that travel agents were kept up to date with knowledge on the various products and offerings.

He added that the South Pacific was finding itself in a very competitive market with multiple airlines on sale and large marketing budgets for other destinations such as Vietnam, Hawaii, Thailand and Bali.

He noted however that New Zealand travel agents still love the fact that the Pacific Islands offer a short flight time, often on the same time zone as New Zealand and that our hoteliers and suppliers understand what Kiwis want in a holiday, which continues to add to the appeal of the South Pacific Islands.

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