Moves are afoot to have four UNESCO Geoparks established in the Pacific, a development expected to boost tourism in a sustainable way while focusing on not only geology but also culture.
It is possible that these and others may form a ‘Geopark trail’ around the Pacific.
At a South Pacific Tourism Office (supported by the South Pacific Community, SPC) webinar this week, it was noted that a number of steps needed to be taken at all sites (some more than others) before a submission could be made to UNESCO.
Vanuatu Tourism Office reports that resorts in the destination have been preparing for the return of international visitors.
Aore Island Resort on Espiritu Santo has completed a total renovation. This includes improved guestrooms, restaurants, jetties and beach huts. Agents can follow Aore Resort on Instagram @aoreislandresort
Mangoes and Terraces Resort have been working behind the scenes to upgrade the kitchens and pool areas. They also have a new app, developed to reduce contact points around the resorts. The whole team is double vaccinated.
After the recent announcement of Fiji’s borders opening on 1 December, hotel and resort bookings have soared.
The industry has seen tremendous momentum and record bookings, predominantly from families looking for a reunion, couples wanting to escape and groups looking to celebrate missed milestones.
Clean, Caring and Checked is the new mantra of tourism businesses across Vanuatu, under the Vanuatu Government’s Safe Business Operations (SBO) programme.
The Covid safety training is a required preparation for business restarts and all tourism staff are encouraged to undertake it across the 83 islands.
‘We must protect not only visitors but also our tourism staff and families. This training will ensure businesses are prepared to get back on their feet and provide our people with the confidence to greet visitors to Vanuatu,’ says Rae Ernest, safe business operations coordinator. ‘
Fiji will open to international travellers on 1 December. Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama said in statement on Sunday that Fiji is ready to welcome travellers back to its shores.
‘We are entirely confident in our ability to manage the risk associated with quarantine-free travel. Our planes are prepared. Our airports are adapted.’
The official announcement came as Fiji reached its goal to get 80% of its eligible population fully vaccinated.
Vanuatu Tourism Office is reaching out to the New Zealand travel trade as the possibility of border re-openings draws closer.
Retail agents and brokers are encouraged to register their details with VTO so that they can have access to key information and collateral at their fingertips. With so much change in the industry over the past 18 months VTO says it understands the challenge agents are facing with accessing up to date information to share with clients who may be currently looking at organising a South Pacific 2022 winter holiday.
Yesterday marked a border milestone between Vanuatu and New Zealand as 154 seasonal workers arrived in Christchurch with the commencement of the one-way travel bubble from Vanuatu to New Zealand.
‘The new travel bubble establishes a series of new protocols in both Vanuatu and New Zealand to create this safe travel pathway,’ says Len Tarivonda, director of Vanuatu’s Public Health. ‘It is the first stage in testing the systems we have put in place in Vanuatu and ensuring our citizens are prepared for travel.
‘Naturally we are hopeful that this will lead to two-way travel between our countries – however we need to take it step by step to ensure our preparations are sound,’ says Tarivonda.
Island Hopper Vacations in Cook Islands has re-introduced Close Encounters FIT packages to the islands of Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, or Atiu.
The packages are for two or three nights with tours, transfers, dinner and some breakfasts.
Robert Skews, managing director of parent company Turama Pacific Travel Group, says Island Hopper has been using RI’s Retreat near the airport in Mauke, and notes that RI’s Hideaway is currently being renovated and will provide a more remote beachside option.
Tourism Fiji is advising the New Zealand trade that key resorts and hotels will be ready for their clients when they return, with many having refurbished, renovated and even added to their offerings while international visitors have been away.
The Sheraton Fiji Resort has renovated its guests’ rooms and revitalised the lobby space. The resort has three new dining experiences designed by CHADA; Tatavi Grill & Bar Restaurant, Island 619 and 28g (Grams). Additionally, the meeting spaces have been given a new look.
Shannon Mawer has joined Tourism Fiji as public relations and marketing manager, New Zealand, in its Auckland office.
Mawer was most recently in a marketing coordinator position with Joylab Network NZ and previously a publicist at Mediaworks. She has skills in PR and marketing campaign development, media relations and publicity, content management and creation, as well as stakeholder management.
Taumeasina Island Resort, close to Apia’s CBD, will soon complete the addition of new villas.
According to general manager Tuitaga Nathan Bucknall, the new development consists of 12 self contained three-bedroom villas offering views of the Pacific Ocean.
The new villas are larger in size compared to those which are part of the original build. All are on the mainland by the main entrance and directly face Taumeasina Island.
More than 50 agents have completed the Certified Tahiti Specialist Programme (CTS) online training modules. They will all receive a gift from Tahiti Tourisme.
Moana McKeen, trade manager – New Zealand with Tahiti Tourisme, says hundreds more have registered for the programme and are yet to complete the modules.
‘The programme is a ‘one stop shop’ for all travel advisors, offering comprehensive destination training as well as benefits for joining the programme and becoming a Certified Tahiti Specialist.
Samoa’s Covid-19 contact tracing app, Samoa Travel Tracer, has been officially launched in Apia by Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa.
The platform is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health and Samoa Tourism Authority and is a vital component of the Samoa Travel-Ready Toolkit.The toolkit also includes vaccination, tourism business operator training and maintenance, and sales and marketing initiatives.
Samoa Travel Tracer is based on the privacy-preserving BlueTrace protocol developed in Singapore, and it was developed locally in partnership with SkyEye and the Samoa Information Technology Association.
Samoa looks likely to welcome only vaccinated travellers once borders reopen, attendees at a Beautiful Samoa webinar heard yesterday.
The two Sheraton properties at the destination – Sheraton Hotel and Bungalows and Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort, have already signalled that they will insist on proof of vaccination before entry to the properties.
Sonny Rivers, NZ sales and marketing representative with Samoa Tourism, says that the requirements have not been finalised by the government.
Tourism Fiji has a new initiative to encourage all Fijians to be ready to welcome back international visitors when travel resumes. The initiative communicates a simple, but important, message in a bid to reach 100% vaccination of eligible population in Fiji.
‘It’s our best shot at travel: get vaccinated and get ready,’ will be shared across Tourism Fiji’s digital channels, both locally and globally.
‘The campaign also includes a toolkit for the Fijian tourism industry so they too can encourage Fijians to support the drive to get vaccinated and be ready to reopen,’ says Brent Hill, Tourism Fiji CEO.
Cook Islands Tourism is highlighting one of Rarotonga’s newest resorts to the trade in New Zealand.
Ocean Escape Resort, an adults-only resort with 12 villas, opened in May when the ‘bubble’ between AKL and RAR began. However, feedback indicates that many agents are still not aware of the property.
A major feature of Ocean Escape is its lagoon fed pool, where guests can swim with tropical fish. It also has a poolside cabana and a social barbecue area, plus a beach front lounge from which people can whale watch in season.
Over the past 12 months an extensive refurbishment programme at Rarotonga’s Manuia Beach Resort has included new kikau style roofing, retiling of the infinity pool (which features as the last shot of the sunset on the currently running Cook Islands television commercials), and new Balinese style furniture in all rooms. New lighting and landscaping has been undertaken, the drainage has been upgraded and the rooms have been painted inside and out.
The resort also has a new general manager – Ross McLauchlan. McLauchlan was most recently manager of the Alcamo in Hamilton. He has been involved with Rarotonga for over a decade after being appointed head judge for the inaugural Air New Zealand Tourism Awards in 2009, and again in 2011 and 2013. He also recruited New Zealand staff for the Cook Island Accreditation programme from its inception, and later became an accreditor.
Vanuatu Tourism Office has named Paul Pio as the new short haul markets manager. He is responsible for managing and developing the brand positioning of Vanuatu as a tourism destination in the short-haul markets of New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia, including managing VTO’s representation in each market.
Crown Beach Resort & Spa on Rarotonga has appointed Mike Geary from Eye 4 Travel as its NZ and Australian representative. He will be look after all aspects of the sales and marketing for the resort. On the western coast of Rarotonga, Crown Beach Resort & Spa is on five acres of tropical gardens with 36 stand-alone villas (some with their own pool), a conference / functions centre, onsite spa, two restaurants and bars, a waterfall-fed swimming pool and 120m of private beach. The resort is 15 minutes from downtown Avarua, 10 minutes from the airport.
A massive consumer turnout at the Cook Islands Travel Expo in Auckland on Sunday not only illustrated the high level of interest in the destination but also how important it is for agents and brokers to keep abreast of developments there, say participants at the event.
‘People were talking not only about the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki but also wanted to know about the outer islands and the differences between them,’ says Alana Eli, New Zealand / Australia represntative with Turama Pacific Travel group, the parent company of Island Hopper Vacations.
The tourism industry in Fiji continues to show its resilience and determination to get back to business by leading the way with getting vaccinated.
Tourism Fiji’s head office team in Nadi, Fiji, received their second dose at Nadi Airport last week. Other industry partners are also now in the position of having their staff fully vaccinated in support of the Fiji Government drive to get every eligible Fijian vaccinated as soon as possible.
Cook Islands Tourism is hosting a Cook Islands Trade Expo featuring Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu and their sister islands, on Monday 5 July 2021 at the Hilton Auckland. Travel professionals will have the flexibility to attend the expo anytime that is convenient for them between 10am and 8pm. Destination presentations will take place at 11.30am, 2.00pm, 4.00pm and 6.00pm.
Demand for travel to the Cook Islands has exceeded expectations as New Zealanders respond to the once in a lifetime opportunity of having the tropical island to themselves.
Graeme West, general manager for Cook Islands Tourism Australasia, says since the travel bubble between the two countries opened last week, bookings and enquiries have been much higher than anticipated. Air New Zealand has added 16 more flights in July and additional flights through to October.
Island Hopper Vacations has new packages that open up the Cook Islands beyond Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
‘These are essentially small group charters with the ability for individuals or couples to join,’ says managing director Robert Skews.
The Southern Group Adventure package takes up to 12 people to Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia, staying two nights in each island and includes flights, accommodation, tours and breakfasts and dinners.
Signs are promising that Niue will open to New Zealand quarantine-free in the fourth quarter of this year, according to the chair of the Pacific Island nation’s Tourism Advisory Board, Vanessa Marsh.
Marsh emphasises that a two-way bubble will be dependent on the vaccination roll out in Niue, plus agreement by both governments. However, there is reason to be optimistic with vaccinating expected to start in Niue
in June and take six weeks.
Pacific Resort Hotel Group has completed a $10 million renovation and repositioning of the Little Polynesian Resort and Pacific Resort Rarotonga.
The renovation programmes at both resorts has been ongoing over the past five years and entailed a full remodel of all guestrooms including new furniture, floor and wall coverings, as well as a bathroom remodel. In addition, renovation of all public areas, including restaurant, bar and pool is finished. A year-long closure of international borders into the Cook Islands due to Covid-19 has allowed both resorts to fast-track and complete upgrades ahead of schedule.
With increased prospects on a widening Pacific travel bubble in the next few months, Samoa Tourism Authority held a casual lunch and informative presentation for trade and media partners at Swashbucklers in Auckland last Friday.
Sonny Rivers, who handles the New Zealand market for STA, says that the opening of trans-Tasman borders and continued hope that Rarotonga and Niue will open to Kiwis soon are steps in the right direction for Pacific travel.
The Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) is leading ongoing renovation works for sites within the country with assistance from the New Zealand Government through the Samoa Tourism Growth Partnership (STGP).
The partnership is a five-year investment since 2017, which also includes broader support of product development, tourism training and destination marketing.
As talks of two way international travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands increase, travel agents are encouraged to become Cook Islands specialists through an all new online training platform from Cook Islands Tourism that focuses on the two most popular of the 15 islands - Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
The training platform features five modules: About the Cook Islands; About Rarotonga; Where to stay and things to do in Rarotonga; About Aitutaki; Where to stay and things to do in Aitutaki.
With Skal Nadi’s Christmas Party being cancelled due to Tropical Cyclone Yasa in December, the New Year’s event was the first time members had been able to meet for just on two months.
The meeting was held at a Nadi Skaleague’s restaurant, Nadina Authentic Fijian Restaurant at Port Denarau where owner Amy Subam arranged a menu of traditional local cuisine. About 30 people attended, including the entire Nadi-based membership. The acting CEO of Tourism Fiji, Robert Thompson was the official guest and gave an update on the latest news from the organisation.
Agents looking for information and advice on the Cook Islands in anticipation of a travel corridor can access an Instagram page that gives tips in the destination.
Erin Micthell has been living in the Cooks for two and a half years and says the border closure has given her the chance to explore her own back yard.
‘I’ve created an account called Top 5 Cook Islands,’ says Mitchell. ‘Every week I select a category and highlight my top five – everything from great places to eat, sleep, drink and swim will be covered.’
New Caledonia Tourism has appointed Nouvelle Vague Marketing to represent the destination in New Zealand and Australia.
Translating to ‘French New Wave’, Nouvelle Vague is headed up by tourism industry specialist Caroline Brunel.
With more than 20 years’ experience in destination marketing (including five years working on New Caledonia), Brunel has worked across major DMOs and wholesale, on both client and agency side,
Fiji is high on the list of New Zealanders’ travel aspirations lists right now and many would pack their bags and go if the borders opened now, according to research released late last week.
Tourism Fiji partnered with Mediaworks at the end of 2020 to survey Kiwis around their mindset towards Fiji for a holiday. The research targeted listeners on three radio stations – MoreFM, The Breeze and George FM.
A well known Fiji adventure tourism operation is on the market.
The sale of Excitor Fiji includes two boats, a semi sub, and other aspects of the business and intellectual property.
The vessels service a number of destinations out of Denarau, including the new platform 7th Heaven which Excitor will serve exclusively.
Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) has a new destination training website for the trade.
Designed to immerse agents in the history, culture, adventures and unique stories of Papua New Guinea, as well as provide lots of practical information, the platform will help to increase destination knowledge and support the industry to better sell the destination.
The Cook Islands has created a new virtual reality feature online, showcasing six of the nation’s 15 islands.
Agents can navigate their way virtually around popular islands such as Rarotonga and Aitutaki from a computer, tablet or mobile device, whilst utilising the 360 navigation tool for an expanded outlook on accommodation, lagoons, scenic views and sites, plus dining facilities and activity locations.
Tropica Island Resort will temporarily close for international arrivals until 31 March 2021 and will reopen on 1 April 2021.
Wayne Deed, director of sales and marketing, says the decision was made in light of it looking extremely unlikely that Fiji will be open any time over the next few months.
A selection of 56 self catering properties and holiday homes in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, as well as hotels and resorts, are among the features of a new 36 page online brochure that focuses on the Cook Islands.
Released by Discover Cook Islands, a division of the Turama Pacific Travel Group, the brochure also has sample five and seven night stays in the destination. Rates are public and commissionable to bona fide travel agencies at 12%. Pricing is valid through to 31 March 2021 and the company will produce a further version for the next rate year.
Vanuatu Tourism Office’s latest campaign, We’re Saving You A Spot, aims to motivate travellers to put Vanuatu on their holiday list.
The office says Vanuatu has remained Covid free and is ‘cautiously holding discussions and looking to open borders with New Zealand.’
Fiji has set out a guideline to restart tourism, utilising VIP (Vacation in Paradise) lanes, that will see arrivals from Australia and New Zealand ‘holidaying in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated’.
New Zealand will miss an important opportunity to travel safely if a South Pacific bubble doesn't open soon, according to Daniel Eggenberger, general manager of Air Tahiti Nui.
Tahiti is opening to visitors from 15 July, with pre-departure health checks required by visitors.
Airing fortnightly on Tourism Fiji’s YouTube Channel, ‘Happy Hour TV’ will be available for international travellers and locals alike to tune in for an extra dose of Fiji happiness.
In the first episode the hosts report on the revival of bartering across Fiji as they speak with the founder of the revolutionary Facebook page, ‘Barter for Better Fiji.’ This Facebook group was created during the pandemic as a way for Fijians who are short on cash to still collect the items and resources they need.
A leading hospitality personality in the Cook Islands has added his voice to calls for travel between that destination and New Zealand to be opened as soon as possible.
‘There are a number of reasons that make this logical and beneficial to both countries,’ says Tata Crocombe, chairman of Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort, The Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium and other properties and products. He is also founder of hospitable.tech.ai.
New Caledonia Tourism has a new trade website and e-learning platform for travel agents.
Designed to grow agents’ knowledge and understanding of New Caledonia, both the website and platform feature practical information to engage the industry with the South Pacific archipelago.
A well known Kiwi representative for Pacifc Island destinations and products has called for innovative ideas to boost travel in the region when it is safe to do so.
Susan Williams, of Hogan and Associates, says one such idea borrows from the past, but generated plenty of interest when she mentioned it on Facebook over the weekend.
Felicity Bollen is departing the role of Niue Tourism chief executive. Prior to a five-year tenure leading Niue Tourism she worked as the business development manager of the Niue Chamber of Commerce for two years.
Bollen will continue to contribute to the development of the Pacific region, taking up the position in early May of director of Pacific Connections at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade based in Auckland.
Edgewater Resort and Spa and Club Raro in the Cook Islands are increasingly being marketed as a ‘combined force’ under the banner of Island Hotels Group.