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Beaucoup D'Amour

Australia’s love affair with New Caledonia shows no signs of abating with the latest visitor figures showing a large increase in travel to the idyllic destination.

According to the Institute of Statistics New Caledonia, visitation between January and November last year showed an 18.2 per cent increase on the same period in 2014. That moves Australia up to second behind France for foreign visitors to the territory.

“This is excellent growth and shows that our in-market promotions are having a direct effect on visitor numbers,” said Caroline Brunel, Sales and Marketing Director for New Caledonia Tourism. “We are aiming to continue this through the second phase of our ‘Hello Neighbour’ campaign, which is set to roll out later this month.”

The focus of the campaign will continue to be around New Caledonia’s proximity as one of Australia’s closest Pacific neighbours. The second phase will feature an interactive Instagram Treasure Hunt, a first for a destination marketing organisation, enticing consumers with the opportunity to win a trip to explore New Caledonia firsthand.

Via Instagram and before they book Aussies are able to explore regions such as the white sand beaches of the Isle of Pines, the diverse landscapes of the north, the secluded coves of the Loyalty Islands, the French sophistication of Noumea and the local cowboys from Bourail.

Participants are free to create their own itinerary through a series of activity options ultimately leading them to New Caledonia’s Heart of Voh (a naturally formed love heart marked in the landscape) and potentially score themselves the perfect holiday.

With Noumea only two hours from Brisbane, under three hours from Sydney and less than four hours from Melbourne, New Caledonia is fast becoming a destination where travellers can have it all. It is a country where Melanesian tradition blends with French sophistication, a mix of the chic yet casual, très French but with laid-back island lifestyle and culture.

When travellers arrive in Noumea, they will find themselves a world away in the Paris of the South; whether window shopping the French boutiques or tossing up between warm croissants or a cheese baguette for lunch, the French sophistication is everywhere.

Visitors can also immerse themselves in traditional cultural highlights by learning about the country's indigenous population, the Kanak people, who have inhabited the island for more than 3,000 years at Noumea's Tjibaou Cultural Centre or the Museum of New Caledonia. Or take a self-guided tour to see the French influence through the historical architecture dotted around Noumea.

For the more adventurous types, explore the natural sights, starting with one of the largest nature preserves on earth and highly regarded ecological hotspot, with the world’s largest enclosed lagoon, second largest reef and UNESCO World Heritage site right on the doorstep. Easily accessible water activities include snorkelling, diving, windsurfing, kayaking, SUP and jet skiing.

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Published: 26 February 2016

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