Fiji’s newest taste of island life close to Denarau has impressed travel product and marketing managers who visited the destination for Fiji Day this week.
Malamala Beach Club opened a few months ago but this was the first time Kiwi trade have had the opportunity to check it out in action.
‘Most Kiwis want an outer island experience but they book Denarau,’ says Rachel Mancini, marketing and product, House of Travel.
The community of Laamu recently came together on the island of Gan for the second ever Laamu Turtle Festival.
This year's theme was once again keeping turtles in Laamu Safe and Protected, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of sea turtles and providing a platform for community engagement about greater marine
South Sea Cruises has released details of Malamala Beach Club, Fiji’s menus, confirmed prices and industry rates. Set to welcome guests from 14 August, the beach club is 25 minutes from Port Denarau and offers snorkelling in a surrounding reef, complimentary non-motorised water sports, beachside cabanas with butler service, and an à la carte menu from light bites to Pacific inspired meals and shared platters.
Tourism Fiji says its campaign to attract young and adventurous travellers to Fiji is off to a flying start.
In its first two weeks, the social media-based campaign fronted by Kiwi adventurer and influencer Logan Dodds reached 1.3 million Kiwi 18-29-year-olds, attracting plenty of positive engagement and reactions.
Vanuatu Tourism Office and Air Vanuatu say that international tourism is unlikely to be affected by the volcanic activity on Ambae Island.
In a statement NF says: ‘Whilst not wishing to make light of the situation in Ambae, currently, approximately 8000 people have been evacuated from the eastern side of the island as volcanic ash is contaminating the water supplies.
‘The alert is on a relatively confined basis and this is not currently affecting air services either to Ambae itself or the rest of the Air Vanuatu network.’
New Caledonia Tourism (NCT) is singing a different tune with the launch of a new destination marketing campaign, ‘Sounds of New Caledonia’, in collaboration with Triple J feature artists and Laneway Festival faves, Crooked Colours.
Agents were keen to hear about the new look Tropica Island Resort when luxury and couples orientated Fiji properties toured the country last week. Gai Keniry, director of sales at Tropica, says the resort has seven new sanctuary pool suites and all 24 rooms at the resort now have private outdoor showers.
The adults only Seabreeze Resort Samoa has launched stay/pay deals and bonuses, with savings of over NZ$1000 per couple. Deals are on sale until 30 September 2017, valid for travel from 1 October to 30 April 2018 and available only through travel agents.
A successful Vanuatu Tok Tok wrapped up on Friday night with an over-riding feeling that the destination is making positive strides. According to Allan Kalfabun, Vanuatu Tourism Office, the feedback was that meetings during the tourism forum were valuable for buyers and sellers. He says a frequent comment was that tourism in Vanuatu is on the rise from many countries. Samantha Stock, Sydney Expedia’s Pacic Islands area manager says the online travel agency has seen over 40% growth in room nights year to date as of 22 August. ‘The biggest growth year on year we have seen is from the USA, NZ, UK, Germany and Japan.’ New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts says tourism is a ‘jewel’ for Vanuatu and she sees a significant development opportunity for the island nation. The next 12 months will see further developments start at Bauereld Airport and continue for the next four years, in a move to address some of the airport issues and grow the capacity to bring even more tourists to Vanuatu’s 68 islands.
This year’s Tok Tok was one of the most crucial in the event’s history, according to the destination’s travel industry leaders.
Following on from flight cancellations blamed on the state of the airport and lingering memories of Cyclone Pam, tourism spokespeople say it is more important than ever to get a positive message through to the trade and consumers.
Agents were treated to a glimpse of what Vanuatu has to offer before Tok Tok kicked off on Thursday last week. Agents headed off with Evergreen Vanuatu, a leading indigenous inbound tour operator that covers Vanuatu’s major tourist islands. As the largest indigenous tour operator in Vanuatu, Evergreen has the knowledge on the inside spots to see throughout Vanuatu as well as local custom and culture.
The day tour had four stops – first at a village where the locals explained their customs and traditions, how they lived off the land and why nature is so important. Next stop was Blue Lagoon, which shows off the blue waters
Fiji’s first private island resort, Toberua, is celebrating 50 years of operation and is kick starting birthday festivities. Clients and 35 friends could hire this entire private island for five nights for NZ$50,000. For NZ$278 per person per night, exclusive hire of the island includes; a choice of sixteen private bures that hug the shoreline with uninterrupted views of the ocean, return boat transfers, all meals daily consisting of American cooked breakfast; three course lunch; four course dinner and use of non-motorised watersports to adventure daily.
The developing Pacific tourism destination of Tonga is a good sell for agents who have clients seeking alternatives to more frequently visited islands, say wholesale agents who have just returned from a famil there. ‘When agents ring and say that clients want something different, that’s when I would ask if they have thought of Tonga,’ says Nicole Chitty, of House of Travel product.
Incentive operators, corporate travel agents and meeting planners have been urged to consider New Caledonia if they are looking for somewhere different to recommend to clients. New Caledonia Tourism hosted key players on the business tourism side of the trade to lunch at Maison Vauron, Auckland on Friday and promoted both the ‘France in the Pacific’ appeal of Noumea and the various attractions beyond the city.
The showcasing of new resorts, a revitalised format and the addition of Queenstown to the itinerary are highlights of Tourism Fiji’s upcoming Luxury & Couples roadshow next month. Product on show includes the new adults only addition to Paradise Cove Resort in the Yasawa Islands, the recently opened Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay with its overwater bures and Tropica Island Resort’s refurbishment.
Radisson Blu Resort Fiji officially celebrated 10 years of operations in June with a number of events to thank staff, guests, owners and industry partners. Resort staff were treated to an afternoon tea at the Resort’s Captain’s Ballroom where all were thanked for their dedication and loyalty to the Radisson Blu Resort Fiji’s achievements over its 10 years of operations.
Pitcairn Islands Tourism has a new tour programme for 2018. The 18 night /19 day tour includes a stopover in Tahiti, the ocean voyage to Pitcairn, and 11 days on the island with a range of activities and all meals included. Announcing the launch, Pitcairn Islands Tourism marketing representative, Richard Hankin, says demand for visiting Pitcairn has increased over the past few years. ‘We want to highlight all Pitcairn has to offer.’
The new Matavai Convention Centre Niue was opened yesterday by New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, and Sir Toke Talagi, Premier of Niue. It aims to bring a massive boost to tourism and the economy of Niue.
The multi-million dollar centre, with capacity for up to 168 conference delegates, sits in a spectacular cliff top location at the Scenic Matavai Resort Niue.
Brendan Taylor, Scenic Hotel Group managing director, says the opening of the conference centre will act as a ‘huge enabler’ for the island’s emerging tourism industry. ‘Flow-on benefits from this high yielding sector will likely filter throughout the island’s economy.’
‘Flow-on benefits from this high yielding sector will likely filter throughout the island’s economy.’
Fiji’s small, independent hotels are reminding agents they still have plenty to offer clients who are not necessarily looking for high end resort accommodation.
Theresa Singh, general manager Fiji Independent Travellers & Backpackers Association, says the organisation’s aim is to ‘reintroduce all of the little forgotten three-star properties’ in Fiji.
Singh says association members include Nadi Bay Resort, Smugglers Cove, Ratu Kini Dive Resort, The Beach House, Bounty Island, Uprising Beach Resort and more.
‘The majority are a combination of backpackers combined with private suites and sometimes apartments. They appeal to independent travellers who want good service without having to spend a lot on their accommodation. The guests also get an authentic Fijian experience.’
Singh says the ‘traditional’ style of backpacker accommodation still exists on a small scale in Fiji, with many properties looking to convert dormitories into private ensuite rooms.
‘In saying that, we get volunteer and school groups plus university students who still want that backpacker experience.’ She says all members are commissionable and are encouraged to engage with both the online and traditional trade.
‘On the other hand we are telling the trade that while we may not be big luxury properties, we are definitely offering genuine service and a real local experience.’
The travel trade can expect pricing and membership details for the new Malamala Beach Club within the next two weeks, says Wayne Deed, director of sales and marketing with South Sea Cruises.
Deed says demand for the facility, which is likely to open mid June, has come not only from the wholesale leisure sector but the incentive market – with a number of organisers already receiving pricing.
‘Malamala will be open from 10am to 6pm for visitors but then it will be available at night for private and special events.’
A new tour that allows clients to experience the Fiji outback without venturing too far from Denarau resorts has been launched at Fiji Tourism Expo (FTE).
Howard’s Highlands Tours, a first time exhibitor at FTE, pick up guests at 9am, takes them to Mt Sila for views over Nadi and visits a rural village and school.
The development of 14 new villas with private pools at First Landing Resort and Villas is already generating plenty of interest amongst travel wholesalers, says resort manager Amanda Braddock.
The increased inventory will come on line late this year and include six one-bedroom garden, six two-bedroom ocean view, a three-bedroom and a duplex. Braddock says all will have full swimming pools –‘not just a little plunge pool’.
The travel trade is being urged to talk more about Fiji’s various experiences and particularly the new offerings in the destination.
Matthew Stoeckel, Tourism Fiji’s chief executive officer, says the organisation has been carrying out consumer research and as a result will be taking a more ‘segmented’ approach to various ‘psychographics’ – such as couples, families and youth.
‘Digital forums provide opportunities to really target different markets. Take luxury for example – many people may not traditionally look at Fiji for that.’
Diving the Astrolabe Reef was a trip highlight for agents on a recent dive famil to Fiji.
Four agents experienced dive specialist resorts Beqa Lagoon Resort, located off Pacific Harbour, Matava Eco-Adventure Resort & Spa on Kadavu Island, and a night at the newly renovated Pearl Resort at Pacific Harbour.
The group’s itinerary also included a slice of culture visiting local schools and villages, as well as hiking and sea kayaking.
Tourism Fiji’s trade partnerships manager Cameron Taylor says divers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the variety of diving spots at the destination.
‘We showcased some of the amazing dive locations to agents so they could bring back the expert knowledge and sell it to their clients. We will definitely look to take more dive famils in the near future,’ Taylor says.
“The shark dive is brilliant, it’s a unique selling point for Fiji and people travel from all over the world to experience it. Fiji is also the perfect place for people to learn how to dive; the water is warm, the visibility excellent and the dive product in Fiji is world class.’
Ricci Travel’s Ricci Harbuck relished the experience. ‘Diving in Fiji allows you to see a great variety of corals, fish and underwater features such as swim thrus, bommies and coral walls. From the Golden Arch in Beqa to the Cabbage corals in Tavenui, there is such great diversity. What I like is that you can bring a dive group over with varying levels of experience and have everyone dive to their comfort level.’
Ricci also loved her ‘dry land’ part of the trip. ‘The warmth and hospitality of the Fijian people is amazing. I enjoyed the village visit and lunch, the hikes to secluded waterfalls, the picnic lunch on the beach. We also sea kayaked, took advantage of the spa services at the resorts, and it was a great feeling that you could slow down and enjoy the day.’
Hana Gooch, NZ Travel Brokers Christchurch was equally enthusiastic. ‘The highlight of the trip for me was the shark dive, it was amazing, and very professionally run. I’ve never seen so many fish and I was also fortunate enough to see tiger sharks.’
New resorts, major renovations, new airport terminal, faster internet, port redevelopment and better service standards were hot topics at (STE) held at Taumeasina Island Resort in Apia recently.
Dwayne Bentley, STA, says tourism is at the forefront of people's minds in Samoa, and everyone is working to increase visitor numbers. ‘Kiwi visitor numbers for 2016 were up 8% from 2015 to around 66,000, securing their place as our biggest market. Australians we just under half that at 31,000, with American Samoa sitting third with approximately 15,000. In total we welcomed 145,000 tourists last year, a 4.4% growth from
The Loyalty Island group in New Caledonia is about to become a far more accessible holiday option for trade to sell as the destination puts its might into consolidating its product offerings.
Under a fresh united approach to sell the group, comprising of Ouvea, Lifou, Mare and Tiga islands, Loyalty Tours is to take over the management of the region’s five leading hotels.
The move is backed by Air Loyaute, which is to provide international visitors with greater freedom to fly between the islands for day trips and longer stays.
New Zealand visitors to New Caledonia have soared 7.2% year on year, the New Caledonia Tourism (NCTPS) says.
The increase follows the 25.8% growth in 2015, bringing the total growth over the last two-year period to more than 34.9%.
NCTPS has attributed the hike in visitation to strong visible campaigns in-market, which have differentiated New Caledonia from its competitors.
‘We will be including Blenheim, and going back to Queenstown’, reports Jacquie Carson from the Vanuatu Tourism Office.
‘We received so much positive feedback for taking SPANTO representatives for the face to face meetings with agents to the regional cities – they really do appreciate it and we want to acknowledge this. ‘Many members of SPANTO are one- man operators – the likes of Vanuatu Tourism,
The wedding market will be a key target for Tamanu on The Beach in Vanuatu when it reopens in December.
The resort has been closed since Cyclone Pam, soon after which it was sold. Although most of the existing bungalows had limited structural damage the new owners decided to totally revamp and extend before reopening.
Resort manager Virginia Shore says the existing five villas have been kept but the Tamanu that opens early next month will have a total of 15 villas, an extended restaurant, new pool area and an open air chapel which serves as an alternative to a wedding on the white sand beach.
‘Tamanu previously hosted 35 weddings a year and we are aiming to increase that number,’ says Shore. She says the chapel will double as a ‘chill-out’ area for guests and can also be utilised for private dinners.
The Solomon Islands has identified New Zealand as a potential growth market to the, says regional general manager for Solomon Airlines Victor Sharan.
‘In partnership with the Solomon Islands Visitor Bureau (SIVB), we are looking at a dedicated plan to attract more Kiwis there in 2017.
‘The current tag line “You’re Invited” will be expanded upon in 2017. We aim to establish brand position by implementing tactical campaigns, enhanced PR and more visibility of the destination,’ says Sharan, speaking at the Solomon Islands roadshow in Auckland earlier this week.
Vanuatu is looking at fresh ways to draw New Zealanders to its shores after a poor showing of Kiwi trade representatives at Tok Tok.
Tok Tok Vanuatu was held at Iririki Island Resort & Spa at the end of August. It was attended by 55 buyers, of which only four came from New Zealand.
‘It is very big disappointment,’ says Vanuatu Tourism Office general manager Linda Kalpoi.
Some of exhibitors blamed Air New Zealand’s decision to pull its services from the Vanuatu as a reason for the low number. Others put out a call to Kiwi trade, asking what the industry in Vanuatu could do to convince their clients to come.
By Lisa Bradley
Tok Tok Vanuatu 2016 may have shown the international tourism set the country has dusted itself off from Cyclone Pam, but the event also revealed the country has much bigger plans going into the next two years.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Jo Natuman told the 55 buyers attending the event at Iririki Island Resort & Spa the islands had recovered from Cyclone Pam, which struck in March last year, and is now pushing ahead to recover lost business. Testimony to the fact the country is surging ahead was the exhibitor turnout – 67 faced off buyers – the strongest number in the event’s 14 year history.
Among the success stories were the 139-room Iririki Resort and the Holiday Inn Resort which both opened earlier this year after major revamps following the cyclone. Evidence the market is again on the move was a delegation from four-star, new-build Ramada Resort, which opens on 1 April, 2017.
By Aleisha Moore in Vanuatu
Bauerfield Airport’s runway has officially been declared safe following the completion of numerous short-term repairs late April.
The announcement follows controversy surrounding Air New Zealand’s true intentions for pulling its services from the destination after a recent request by the airline to fly a charter flight full of Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers into Port Vila prior to the completion of repairs. Jason Rakau, chief executive officer of Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL), says he doesn’t wish to speculate on Air New Zealand’s movements but he can assure the industry the runway is now up to scratch. ‘It was about time for it to get done and I think this has been known for a while now. Moving forward we hope that what we have done is good enough and I think that we’ve effectively addressed all of the safety concerns these airlines have.’