The Pacific tourism industry is poised to benefit from the China Pacific Tourism Year initiative announced by President Xi Jinping during the Pacific Leaders’ meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting last November. South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Chief Executive Officer Chris Cocker made the comment while conveying his Chinese New Year greetings in Suva this week.
Cocker said a growing number of Pacific countries are exploring the Chinese outbound market as a potential source market to offset the decline of visitor arrivals from traditional source markets, “Australia which is a Pacific Islands major source market recorded 34% share in 2013 but has steadily declined to reach 27% share in June 2018. In contrast China’s market share rose dramatically to 7% in 2017 from only 3% in 2013, offsetting the declining share from Australia.”
“As we usher in the Year of the Pig, which signifies good fortune, it signifies a great start to the China Pacific Tourism Year. We anticipate an increased visibility of the Pacific Islands in China and also a continuing successful collaboration between South Pacific Tourism Organisation members and the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Culture & Tourism and stakeholders,” said Cocker.
“The China Pacific Tourism Year initiative is unique because SPTO is partnering with one of its own member countries- China, for the benefit of the Pacific peoples. We designed the initiative to promote the Pacific to niche market segments in the China market. It will also help Pacific tourism stakeholders to be ‘China Ready’.
Cocker said the initiative was endorsed by the SPTO Board and the Regional Council of Tourism Ministers who value the importance of marketing the Pacific in emerging Asia economies such as China, “And we are doing this by connecting tourism stakeholders in China and here in the region to increase awareness and understanding of the Pacific Island destinations in the Chinese market and vice versa,” he added.
As part of the China Pacific Tourism Year initiative, SPTO member countries are organizing events which include hosting of key travel trade and media agents, workshops and festivals. French Polynesia and New Caledonia will host their events in February, followed by Samoa in March and Papua New Guinea in April.
SPTO is highlighting the China Pacific Tourism Year through its annual South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) event in New Zealand in May. The theme for the SPTE 2019 is “Sustainable Tourism Development through people to people connectivity.”, “The two complement each other well as work toward making the region ‘China Ready’ and China ‘Pacific Ready,” said Cocker.