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.
The Solomon Island Visitors Bureau (SIVB) is hoping more accommodation comes on line as the country approaches the 2023 Pacific Games, says its chairman Wilson Ne’e.
‘The games will bring big developments in infrastructure around Honiara and we might even see our first branded hotel in Honiara.’
Ne’e was in Auckland late last week as part of a small Solomons delegations that included new SIVB manager New Zealand and Australia Richard Skewes.
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.
A new programme highlighting boutique properties in the Yasawas is expected to make it simpler for travel agents to sell high-end ‘three coconut’ properties in the Fijian island group.
South Sea Cruises has taken the 12 boutique resorts and hotels out of its Awesome Adventures brochure and put them into a new Yasawa Islands Holidays collection.
‘We are launching New Zealand, Australian and Fiji dollar versions within the next fortnight and will have them available at our movie night in Auckland mid-March,’ says SSC’s marketing services manager Carl Amos.
Niue Tourism has launched the Island’s first major brand campaign with the message ‘Nowhere like us.’
Niue Tourism chief executive Felicity Bollen says the catchline, which will feature in the island’s promotions, is the overarching strategy for the campaign and grew out of extensive work to assess what visitors really liked about Niue. ‘We looked at just about everything anyone who’d visited Niue said about the island on the Internet – Facebook, Instagram, blogs and so on – as well as visitor satisfaction surveys and commentaries
The Warwick Fiji now offers an all inclusive food and beverage package in its Bula Brasserie, Pappagallo (Italian Restaurant), and Sazanami (Japanese Restaurant).
It also includes local beers, local spirits and house wines. The offers are available through wholesalers.
General manager Brad Downton says the option provides more choice. ‘A lot of people don’t want to be concerned about the bill when they are in the bars and restaurants.’
Eye4Travel’s Mike Geary has added another South Pacific property to his portfolio – Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa in Rarotonga.
Rumours has seven villas spread across two beachfront locations with each villa having its own private courtyard swimming pool with waterfall and immediate access to a white sandy lagoon.
With a full kitchen in each villa, guests can cook for themselves, have a dinner on-site prepared by their own chef or head to one of the many restaurants within a five to 10-minute stroll along the beach.
The opening of new family and adventure activities, including Fiji’s first roller-coaster zip line, has given one of the country’s long standing visitor attractions an extra lease of life, and has prompted a rebranding.
Kula Eco Park, just out of Sigatoka on the Coral Coast, was established 20 years ago but rebrands officially in the next two weeks as Kula Wild Adventure Park.
Director Ramesh Chand says the park has added a children’s pool (Kula Kiddies Splash Pool), a 301 metre zipline that winds around trees in the park and a 110 metre waterslide (Bula Splash Mountain Jungle Slide). Other additions include a bar, café, ice cream
New Caledonia has launched a new campaign, #TasteNewCaledonia, which focuses on its diverse landscapes and gastronomic offerings.
It celebrates the flavours to be found in each of the destination’s regions, highlighting Kiwi Francophiles can feast on the escargot (snails) of the Isle of Pines or enjoy dishes such as gratin of mangrove crab, local venison, dauphine potatoes and croquettes at a traditional French restaurant in Noumea. Meanwhile, local markets boast French cheese, wines, fresh-baked pastries and chocolates.
Sports groups, incentives and weddings are Hawaii’s next big opportunity out of the New Zealand market, says Darragh Walshe, general manager New Zealand of Hawaii Tourism Oceania.
Walshe says the destination has seen strong growth since Hawaiian Airlines joined Air New Zealand servicing the destination some four years ago. However, the meetings, incentives and sports sector only make up 4% of the business heading to Hawaii out of New Zealand.
‘We’ve really only scratched the surface there and we still see huge potential.’
He says the other area that retains huge potential is travel to the outer islands – beyond the well-known resort area of Waikiki. ‘We had a very small drop in visitors to the outer islands last year and we never like to see that.’
Walshe’s comments came at a function in Auckland last night, with four suppliers from Hawaii ‘stopping’ on their way home from a major incentives and meeting show in Melbourne this week.
The Auckland event attracted a mix of sports tour companies, meeting and incentive organisers and general leisure product managers and agents.
One of the visitors, Randy Parker of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, says he is promoting both old favourites and new attractions that appeal to leisure travellers and the business events group market.
‘If you start your day watching the sun rise through the clouds at Haleakala (a mountain which gives its name to Haleakala National Park) how can you not be having a great
day? I promote that to both leisure and group markets.’
He says one of the newer activities on Maui is Zip & Dip. ‘You zip down the line and straight into the water – it’s probably something new that everyone’s got to do.’
The New Zealand travel trade would like to see more presence form Tonga Tourism in this market to give the destination added profile, especially with the opening of the Tanoa International Dateline late February.
Product managers who took part in the Tanoa famil late February, flying with Air New Zealand, concede that Tonga will always be a niche destination for those looking for a more adventurous type of Pacific holiday and that the accommodation inventory obviously doesn’t lend itself to mass tourism.
Vanuatu’s new four-star resort, Ramada Resort Port Vila, will open three weeks ahead of schedule on 10 March.
The first Ramada-branded property to open in Vanuatu, the 80-room resort is set on the cliffs of Erakor Lagoon with unobstructed beach and sea views.
All key management positions with the resort are filled and the team is now focused on readying staff for opening day.
‘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.’