Tour operators, industry officials, visiting agents, media and curious locals have all declared the first New Caledonia Tourism Workshop a resounding success.
Held at the impressive Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea, the show brought together some 55 exhibitors from around the French-speaking country. They spent the first day interacting with 30 tourism professionals from Australia and New Zealand and the next two days promoting their wares to the local population. Several thousand residents also turned out to learn more about the tourism products on their own doorstep.
“This is such a great way for us to build relationships between our partners on the ground and the Australian and New Zealand wholesalers,” said Caroline Brunel, Manager Australia-New Zealand, New Caledonia Tourism.
“There have been a lot of changes in New Caledonia in recent years and we really wanted to showcase that.”
Each visiting delegate undertook a series of meetings throughout the trade day, providing a great opportunity to get first-hand knowledge of the variety of tourism products, accommodation and facilities now available in New Caledonia. Exhibitors included large hotel chains, airline, regional tourism authorities and small tour operators.
“It all comes down the perception and understanding of New Caledonia and what it has to offer. People need to realise there is so much on offer here: it is not just about lying on a beach,” said Ms Brunel.
Among the more intriguing operators was La Ferme, a consortium of 44 farmers across the country committed to growing ‘organic’ produce for sale to visitors. Toutazimut is a company offering four-wheel drive excursions into the red centre of the main island, while A board de Touaou croisiere run tours around the islands onboard a luxury catamaran.
In an interview with Traveltalk, Ms Brunel revealed tourism officials had set an ambitious target in relation to Australian visitor numbers this year. In 2014, 18,500 Aussies made the trip to New Caledonia and they are hoping to increase this by 30 per cent to 24,000 in 2015. Couples aged 25-35 and over 55 are specific targets for campaign efforts and resources, particularly those who are ‘culturally curious’. Efforts will also be centred on niche products, including golf, walking and cycling, and those who may wish to learn French.
Ms Brunel also revealed that a consumer campaign encouraging Australians to come and ‘meet their neighbour’ will be rolled out in coming month.
“I am seeing this great momentum happening in New Caledonia now that everyone is working towards the same goal. There is a very collaborative approach in the way things work and it’s important to involve everyone.
“And we’ve definitely got all the elements to make it work. Air Calin just launched a new flight out of Melbourne and they are very committed into locking the Australian market into New Caledonia. All the operators here are ready to make it work and are seeing good numbers out of the destination so we want to keep the momentum going and build these relationships.”
The international airline of New Caledonia, Aircalin, operates twelve flights per week non-stop from Australia to Noumea, New Caledonia. Flights take less than three hours from Sydney, under four hours from Melbourne and under two hours from Brisbane. Sydney flights operate six times a week, whilst Brisbane flights depart three times per week, on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and Melbourne flights operate three times per week. For reservations call 1300 655 737 or visit www.aircalin.com
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