Mele Manuofetoa, Real Tonga Airline; Sione Finau Moala-Ma, Tonga Ministry of Tourism and Jason Strickland, Tanoa International Dateline Hotel Mele Manuofetoa, Real Tonga Airline; Sione Finau Moala-Ma, Tonga Ministry of Tourism and Jason Strickland, Tanoa International Dateline Hotel

Focus on core markets, the demand is there for Tonga

The first Tonga trade update ‘for many years’ has come with a call for the Tongan Government to focus on getting in front of its core markets – New Zealand and Australia.

 

Held at Air New Zealand’s Customer Innovation and Collaboration Centre in Auckland last night, the update attracted around 75 agents. ‘This road show could form part of Tonga’s short to medium marketing plan,’ says Scenic Hotels’ director international sales and brand development, Steve Shearer. ‘The industry is crying out for leadership – Tonga needs destination marketing, and the operators will benefit.’ ‘Hotels have invested in infrastructure and sales initiatives with Air New Zealand,’ says Nick Ridling, director of sales at Tanoa International Dateline Hotel. ‘Now the Ministry of Tourism needs to commit to the long term growth of the destination.’

 

GM of the Tanoa, Jason Strickland encourages agents to sell the destination to their clients. ‘Air New Zealand’s Grabaseat promotions prove there is demand – we’re seeing people who would never have come to Tonga. Agents need to get on board. Tonga is cheap to get to, and swimming with whales is a ‘bucket list’ experience.’ Strickland says there is a good selection of accommodation, from eight-room family run properties to contemporary hotels.’ Scenic’s Shearer would like to see people putting Tonga further up their list of options for a Pacific Island holiday. ‘It’s cheap to get here and Tonga has fantastic product. Scenic Hotel Tonga has the largest swimming pool in the country and is the perfect layover hotel for those heading to other islands.’

 

Sione Finau Moala-Mafi who handles marketing at Tonga’s Ministry of Tourism says tourism is growing steadily at around 4% each year with New Zealand leading the charge at 9% growth. Kiwis make up nearly 50% of Tonga’s 80,000 visitors. ‘There is a lot that Tonga has to offer that most visitors are not aware of,’ he says. ‘It’s not only the place for whale watching. We have unspoilt and unexplored diving and snorkelling opportunities – the water is unpolluted and you can see up to 30 metres in deep water. We also have yachts for charter. ‘Consider a different option in the Pacific and explore the unexplored.’

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