The To Sua Ocean Trench on the island of Upolu remains a top destination for visitors to Samoa, as proven by the recent Samoa Tourism and Samoa Airways famil that took place in November. A group of media explored both Upolu and Savaii islands, beginning with STA representative Poinsettia (Tia) Taefu taking the group to Coconuts Beach Resort, which would host the first two nights accommodation.
Coconuts Beach Resort’s spa is undergoing a complete refurbishment, expected to be completed by March 2018. The resort has been open since 1990, which makes it one of the first resorts in Samoa that is still in operation today. It has been renovated and refurbished numerous times over the years. It boasts the only overwater fales in Samoa.
The difference between Samoa and its other Pacific Island neighbours is that Samoa is still ‘raw and unfiltered’, according to Manoa Snorkelling’s Neil Lumsden. Hawaiian-born Lumsden has been living in Samoa for 15 years and runs Manoa Snorkelling, Surfing and Hiking Tours, putting on several tours from different parts of Upolu. ‘Tourism should grow organically, supply shouldn’t outgrow demand,’ he says.
Sustainability and quality are two key focuses in Tourism Fiji’s plan for future tourism growth. With tourism a major income earner for the country, ensuring a structured tourism product growth is vital for both visitors and locals.
Tourism Fiji regional manager NZ Sonya Lawson says Fiji is a proud nation and is well aware that its natural resources are not only valuable tourist attractions but must also be honoured and protected.
‘This is reflected in the growing number of sustainable tourism initiatives in place throughout Fiji including mangrove and reef revitalisation, turtle releasing and growing of local organic produce for hotels and resort restaurants,’ she says.
Captain Cook Cruises Fiji has launched an environmental initiative onboard the MV Reef Endeavour to help stop plastic pollution in remote Fiji and look after and sustain the environment.
The Ocean Ambassador initiative focuses on cleaning up the plastic waste from the remote beaches and villages visited on Captain Cook Cruises three, four, seven and eleven-night cruises.
The industry needs to work together – tourism, sports, and agriculture – to help promote Samoa, says Jade Toomalatai, Samoa Tourism Authority. ‘While some already do, more accommodation providers need to consider packages or lowering rates outside of the busy season to help fill rooms in the off season,’ she says. ‘If not, tourists will go to other Pacific Islands, which may have more money to promote and also to discount rates.’
Most tourists to Samoa say they wish they had come to the island of Savaii first, rather than the more popular Upolu, according to Kelly Walker, manager of Savaii Lagoon Resort. Walker says ninety percent of the resort’s business comes from New Zealand, it’s popular with families because of the self-catering kitchens and safe beach, as well as the 60s+ market because of the peaceful location. 'Many people come for a month and have been doing so for the last 10 years', she says.
Fiji’s Nanuku Auberge Resort has a new round of special stay packages giving 20% off to guests choosing to stay between three to six nights or a 30% discount for those choosing to stay seven nights or longer.
Both offers have been value added to include a choice from two bonus family-oriented activity options for two adults and two children with children 12 years and under staying, playing and eating for free.
The ‘family-time’ bonus includes a guided Food Safari visiting local markets and gathering fresh local produce – crabs, prawns, fruit and vegetables – which the resort’s chef will prepare for their dinner.
Totoka Hair and Make Up is aiming to handle about 500 weddings a year as well as a consistent number of film and TV bookings, says director Leanne Goff.
The company is also set to offer a range of new pre-wedding pamper packages for brides next year.
A relative newcomer to the hair and make up industry in Fiji, Totoka Hair & Make Up has just completed its third successful year in business and has arguably become the busiest and most sought after hair and make up business in Fiji.
The success of this year’s South Pacific Association of National Tourism Offices (SPANTO) events has encouraged the organisation to be back in force around New Zealand
Dates and regions will be officially announced after SPANTO’s annual general meeting on 12 December.
However early indications are that the number of events will increase.
Agents that book clients to stay at Seabreeze Resort Samoa between 1 November 2017 and 31 March 2019 can enter the draw to win a fantastic holiday of a lifetime to Seabreeze.
The incentive runs until 14 May 2018 and for every booking made travel agents earn three entries and wholesalers earn one entry into the holiday draw.
Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort is making some changes in a bid to set itself apart from other beachfront resorts in Samoa, as witnessed by a group of agents and wedding planners on a recent wedding-focused famil to the island last week.
Sandeep Prasad, sales office manager for Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort, says they are doing some changes across the property, in an effort to bring some traditional Samoan cultural elements into the rooms and surrounds.
‘We are working hard on setting our property apart form our competitors. Samoan art and craft is very beautiful; we feel other properties don’t take advantage of that.
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.
Samoa, and particularly the country’s Sheraton properties, are making a concerted effort to attract more destination weddings out of New Zealand.
Putting the country on the marriage map is a key objective of a four day famil being hosted right now by Marriott International and Air New Zealand.
Rhonda Williams, of Fuzion Travel, says she is interested to see what the wedding scene in Samoa has to offer.
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
An opportunity to have a fun and relaxed time to mark Fiji day, as well as experience some exciting new product in the destination, has been taken up by more than 20 industry and media personnel this week.
Marketing and product managers from major brands are amongst the participants in the programme, which started officially yesterday and finishes Wednesday.
The Tourism Fiji organised event has support from both Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand.
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.
With an average of two or three cruise ships arriving each week, carrying between 500-2000 passengers, the official opening of a major waterfront development signals a key moment in Vanuatu’s future. The opening ceremony on 1 September 2017 of the Seafront Veiawa Park, ‘Made in Vanuatu’ Haus Blong Handikraf and Mahitahi Market coincided with last week’s Tok Tok, a showcase of Vanuatu’s tourism sector.
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, marketing manager, 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.
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 started the tour 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.
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.
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.’