Opportunities for Vanuatu as China’s tourists go looking for adventure

Chinese travel blogger Super Baozi (centre) withe the Pacific Trade and Invest film crew enjoying Vanuatu Zipline on Efate. Photo: Pacific Trade and Invest

Chinese travel blogger ‘Super Baozi’ with the Pacific Trade and Invest film crew enjoying Vanuatu Zipline on Efate. Photo: Pacific Islands Trade and Invest

It’s a beautiful tropical paradise that remains unknown to most Chinese. But the time is fast approaching when adventurous Chinese travellers will seek out Vanuatu’s tourism treasures and the massive Chinese economy will help unlock opportunities to invest in and grow the young nation’s industries.

Last month, Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I)‘s Trade Commissioner David Morris, who is Beijing-based, and Tourism and Marketing Manager Vivienne Song brought a famous Chinese blogger and a virtual reality film crew to explore all that Vanuatu has to offer Chinese visitors, and discussed future co-operation with the Vanuatu Tourism Authority and industry.

‘Super Baozi’ is a leading travel writer whose guides to Australia and New Zealand are bestsellers in China. His adventure travel blog has more than 200,000 followers on Weibo, China’s version of twitter. In Vanuatu, PT&I took him to Tanna to climb the Yasur volcano, to fly through the jungle on Efate’s zipline and to numerous other attractions. Super Baozi’s blogs about Vanuatu are expected to spark fresh interest amongst independent Chinese travellers looking for the unique experiences Vanuatu can offer.

Also travelling with PT&I in Vanuatu was a film crew shooting with the aid of the latest technology, including a drone-mounted camera, to make a virtual reality film of the South Pacific, to be launched at the major tourism industry expo, China International Travel Mart in Shanghai in October. The blogger and film crew also travelled on to Fiji and Samoa.

“Vanuatu has potential to attract significantly more Chinese tourists once the Port Vila airport project is completed, making it possible to bring charter flights and one day regular, direct services from mainland Chinese cities”, said David Morris.

In discussions with the Vanuatu Tourism Authority, PT&I agreed to work together to help build the capacity of the tourism industry to cater for this new market, including a China-ready industry workshop early next year, assistance with Chinese language materials, promotion on Chinese social media and at travel expos, as well as potential exchanges with the PT&I office in Beijing.

David Morris and PT&I China Investment Manager Isa Peng also toured the proposed Free Trade Zone site on Santo Island, met with businesses seeking Chinese investment and markets and discussed close co-operation with the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority. Both organisations will work together to promote Vanuatu at a forthcoming investment expo in Hong Kong and in key meetings in Guangdong Province.

“Exports of fish and fish products to China increased by US$8 million (Vt 848.4 million) to US$12.4 million (vt 1.315 billion) in 2015, with strong interest also in Vanuatu timber”, said Mr Morris. “Overall, Vanuatu exports to China were worth US$14 million (Vt 1.485 billion) last year and have strong potential to grow, particularly with Chinese investment to assist in agricultural value-adding. Chinese aid and concessional loans have helped Vanuatu built key infrastructure, including a major wharf redevelopment on Santo Island that is running ahead of schedule and will assist exporters with a more efficient link to major markets.”

This post first appeared on Pacific Trade and Invest’s blog, and is republished here with permission. For more information about making tourism development China-ready, contact Vivienne.Song@pacifictradeinvest.org.cn or if you have an enquiry about finding a Chinese business partner to build capacity to service the China market, contact Isa.Peng@pacifictradeinvest.org.cn for free advice, introductions and assistance.