The big push North

THE Chinese and Indian markets has been the focus of many Pacific hotels, airlines and travel companies at a tourism exchange on the Gold Coast last month. Chinese tour companies who attended the Bank South Pacific –sponsored Australian Tourism Exchange were prime targets for the Pacific because of the growing affluence of those markets. Despite a recent slowdown in China’s economy, its growing middle class with the means to travel is a potential major source market for the region.

“There was a huge number of Chinese tourism buyers at the Australian Tourism Exchange and they are looking for destinations which the Pacific can offer,” said South Pacific Tourism Organisation Acting CEO, Alisi Lutu. Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau CEO, Josefa Tuamoto, said opportunities existed for partnerships between Pacific destinations to access more of the Asian market. “China is big, very big and not all Pacific countries have the flight connections or the rooms needed to cater for such a large market,” Tuamoto said. “But working together it’s possible for various destinations to take a small number of Chinese visitors each and then move them on to the next country.”

Fiji is the only Pacific destination other than Australia or New Zealand with direct links to China. The big push North ‘ ‘ Papua New Guinea and Fiji have direct flights to Singapore and Hong Kong while PNG also has services to Indonesia and the Philippines. Tuamoto said the challenge was for Pacific airlines, tour companies and destinations to work together to develop attractive, efficient and cost effective packages for visitors.

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