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SPTO: Chinese Tourism In New Caledonia: Take-Off Imminent!

12-Oct-2017 The result of the collective determination of the New Caledonian institutions, New

Caledonia Tourism and members of the tourism industry, the development of Chinese
tourism in the territory is about to become a reality. New Caledonia has just been awarded
Approved Destination Status by China, which facilitates the granting of visas, and a first charter flight, operated by Aircalin, has been scheduled for February 2018. For NCTPS, the promotional work will intensify.

China: one of the axis of the Tourism Development Strategy 2025
After the recent market survey and the organisation of meetings with professionals in the Chinese tourism industry, especially at the workshops in Shanghai and Beijing last June, China was identified as a potential market for the development of Caledonian tourism. The territory has all the attributes to attract small groups of the Chinese professional class who appreciate new seaside destinations. It is also ideally positioned between low-cost, mass market destinations, such as Fiji, and luxury destinations, such as Tahiti. A high quality tourist destination without the masses!

Several major obstacles before being ‘China Ready’
Before being able to enter this new market, the local tourism industry needs to be made aware of Chinese expectations, air connections need to be simplified, the New Caledonia destination needs to be publicized, and certain administrative obstacles need to be managed. This is why the New Caledonian government has called upon the Chinese authorities to facilitate the issuing of visas, while New Caledonia Tourism (NCTPS) has organised local ‘China Ready’ workshops to inform tourism industry professionals, all the time while continuing the training of Chinese tour operators/travel agents, and why Aircalin has negotiated the implementation of charter flights and improved air connections with partner airline companies.

Ground work which has led to several significant recent developments:

The Chinese Ambassador to France, Mr. Jun Zhaï, came in person to announce to the Government of New Caledonia that the territory has been awarded Approved Destination Status, during his visit to the territory from 2nd to 6th October. A change of status that allows Chinese tour operators to directly manage the visa requests of groups of tourists. A streamlining of the visa issuing procedure for groups should also lead to a simplified visa issuing procedure for individuals.

The Chinese tour operator, Beijing CAISSA International Travel Service is selling the first set of different New Caledonia packages for the Chinese New Year from 17th to 23rd February 2018, departing from Hangzhou. For this occasion, an inaugural charter flight will be operated by Aircalin with 260 passengers on board. A first test which will be repeated in mid-2018 if it is successful.

Finally, New Caledonia Tourism has recruited a representative in Beijing to continue the work of identifying Chinese tour operators/travel agents and increasing New Caledonia’s profile in the media and with public opinion influencers. Eductours, workshops and e-learning programmes have been organised for professionals, Chinese social networks such as Weibo and WeChat have been contacted to begin reaching out to the public, and a charm offensive has been launched with the Chinese media, with the intention of making the most of the presence of invited public opinion formers to make the first charter flight the media launch of the destination.

2018 will thus be a demanding year for New Caledonian tourism, requiring the full involvement of all the members of the tourism industry. A future ‘China Destination Contract’ is being drawn up, while the Government is putting into place a banking agreement to accept the Chinese ‘Union Pay credit card system, and NCTPS is preparing a strategy to ensure a lasting presence in the market.