Last week, the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) Team in Australia was excited to hold a face-to-face function with major travel wholesalers and travel media. This was also the same week that Vanuatu went into a lockdown.
VTO international teams have kept in regular contact with travel trade and media in all core markets during the pandemic to make sure Vanuatu remains on their radar, but this was one of the first face-to-face functions held – a much more pleasant way to do business.
VTO provided updates to the travel trade and media on:
- Ministry of Health Border Opening Roadmap
- Safe Business Operations Training
- Air Vanuatu
It was also a great opportunity to remind friends and partners about what makes Vanuatu special. The opportunity to continue discussions on marketing programs for tourism recovery in Vanuatu was also very timely.
The event was attended by 30 in total including:
- Online Travel Agents – Expedia, booking.com
- Adventure and Niche Market Specialists – Crooked Compass, Diveplanit, and World Expeditions, Dive Adventures
- Helloworld, Omniche, Hoot Holidays, Ignite, and Island Escapes
- Media – delicious, Travel Weekly, Travel Talk, Out and About with Kids as well as top-tier freelance writers
Air Vanuatu and several of Vanuatu’s tourism industry partners were also at the event. The High Commissioner to Vanuatu, His Excellency Samson Vilvil Fare was also in attendance.
“We were so thrilled to be invited to the recent Vanuatu Tourism update in Sydney, to learn about the progress of vaccinations & opening of borders soon.”
“The Ignite Travel Group & My Vanuatu team are ready and standing by to support the tourism sector for Vanuatu. Our experience of facilitating domestic travel and more recently other international destinations has put us in a stronger position than ever to support Tourism into Vanuatu.” – Rod Carrington – General Manager My Holiday/General Manager Product Ignite Travel Group
Feedback from the function included:
- Operators are seeing huge levels of pent-up demand when border announcements are made converting into enquiries and bookings and they expect demand to be incredibly strong for Vanuatu when borders open
- Travel sellers report that consumers are looking for nature-based holidays where they can enjoy lots of space and get back to nature – they think Vanuatu can provide that
- Media are interested in covering destinations that offer new and interesting story angles that they have not covered before, as well as supporting advertisers
While there is no set date for opening, trade partners are wanting to be prepared and are urging tourism operations to make sure:
– Copy and images in their system are up to date
– Opening rates and packages are being considered
– Making sure your properties contact details are up to date so you can keep in touch with opportunities
Key feedback was that they are seeing huge demand for South Pacific travel so they look forward to sending Australians to Vanuatu as soon as Vanuatu’s borders are open.
Vanuatu has always had many friends and supporters across the travel trade and media, and they stand by to work with VTO to help re-start travel to Vanuatu.
This event has been an excellent follow up to the Australian Society of Travel Writers and International Media Marketplace events where VTO hosted more than 100 media across a week at the end of February. Since the events, VTO has fielded media enquiries on Vanuatu’s reopening plans, key cultural experiences to have in destination, off the beaten track experiences and new tours and products.
Vanuatu has now engaged with all Australian media and trade partners in the last month in preparation for re-commencing travel to Vanuatu.
VTO continues to work with trade and media stakeholders across all our markets and the commentary in Australia is reflected in New Zealand, New Caledonia and a range of long-haul markets.
All partners, media and trade, can see the link between what Vanuatu has to offer and what travellers are looking for. The next stage will need to be providing the specifics on the plans of products and experiences in Vanuatu.