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WE ARE GETTING THERE!

ONLY 40 MORE DAYS TO GO BEFORE WE WELCOME OUR FIRST QUARANTINE-FREE TRAVELERS!

WOOHOO!

INDUSTRY UPDATE - ENDING 22 MAY 2022

We hope that you are all safe and well in all this rain, after the short passage of TC Gina. It is really the last thing we need at the moment.

It has been an interesting week. From zoom meetings, review of planning, reconnections with trade partners, site visits into different local properties etc. We are now 40 days before the 01 July 2022.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH

We are excited to announce that SANMA Province and the Torres Group are now on Recovery Level 1. This means they will be able to welcome international visitors back from 1 July when borders re-open.
Other islands and provinces currently on Recovery Level 2 and Alert level 1 & 3 will continue to be monitored by the Ministry of Health.

For more information on the domestic travels under Recovery Level 1 - https://covid19.gov.vu/index.php/travelling-to-vanuatu/domestic-travel

18MAY SITUATION TRACKER 

The revised health protocols were also released last week - we know there are some questions around these and we are doing our best to get them. We understand there is going to be some additional modification to these existing protocols in the coming days, once they are released by the Ministry of Health. We will make sure to also release these to the industry and in markets.

FORECASTING DEMAND

We understand many operators are looking towards demand forecasts for travel over the next 12 months as they develop their individual opening scenarios and the need to invest to get their business up and running.

As you can well imagine, this is a difficult scenario to predict. Some of the below information may assist:

  • We have seen both the Cook Islands and Fiji have strong initial interest from holiday makers. It does need to be considered that they were some of the first countries to open and travel restrictions were much tighter.
  • Australian domestic holidays destinations have so far done well in 2022, post the removal of all border restrictions and testing regimes
  • Cruise ship bookings for the second half of 2022 and 2023 are reportedly strong.
  • Long haul travel from Australia and New Zealand is making a fast return with increased aviation access and airlines return to the markets.
  • Many of the changes in consumer travel patterns have not materialized.
  • There are definitely some older travelers that are still reluctant to move about again – but this number appears to be reducing quickly.
  • Over the COVID period, Tourism Australia has been running a travel sentiment survey – while not all the information is useful, it does provide a good insight into travel across a range of markets - click here 
  • Tourism New Zealand insights Hub - click here
  • Fiji Statistics can be found on the following link - click here

The Business Intelligence Program of the Vanuatu Tourism Office had undertaken a number of mini Travel Intention Surveys in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, earlier this year. In 2019, Australia represented the largest inbound tourism market to Vanuatu, with 63,098 passengers, followed by New Zealand (15,076) and New Caledonia (14, 688).
The average visitor spends in 2019 was USD$1,174 per visitor.

  • Australia - $1187 USD per visitor
  • New Zealand - $1127 USD per visitor
  • New Caledonia - $831 USD per visitor

The full version of the 2019 International Visitor Survey (IVS) is available here - NZTRI | Tourism Research - Pacific

While the Australian and NZ Surveys results and outcomes are being reviewed and finalized, we are happy to report on the New Caledonia’s consumer market’s intention for travel:

  • 49% of the respondents are confident to travel to Vanuatu, whilst 51% remain reserved, pending the provision and clarity around additional covid-19 information on protocols
  • 86% of the respondents plan to travel within the next 12 months of the border reopening
  • Vanuatu remains their #1 choice of destination - closer to home – with 52% of the respondents choosing to visit when quarantine on arrival is no longer required, over Australia (18%) and New Zealand (10%)
  • The largest segment of travelers are holiday travelers (59%), followed by Visiting Friends and Relatives (28%) and the Business Travelers (9%).
  • Efate remains the top destination to visit in Vanuatu (73%), followed by Espiritu-Santo (49%), Tanna (29%), Malekula (12%) and Banks Islands (9%)
    The full version of the 2022 NC Travel Intention Survey Mini-Survey is available HERE.

SOME QUICK UPDATES

  • This week Ministry of Health have released the protocols for travel from July 1. This is great news. While there are still a number of questions, we are addressing with Health to seek more clarity and dig deeper into the detail, it is a big step forward. This relates to areas of uploading of documentation and travel approvals, requirements if there is a positive test once they have travelled, and onwards travel to other provinces. All parties and now able to work towards the processes and systems that sit behind this.
  • VTO is currently producing a document that will take consumers through a step by step process and what to expect. This will be shared with industry. VTO are also regularly updating their website with up-to-date information on protocols that is received directly from the Ministry of Health.
  • Many operators have requested an official statement from government about border openings and health protocols. VTO is working with the Prime Minister’s Office to address this request.
  • Don’t forget, our international market intelligence reports can be found on the Keeping Vanuatu Beautiful Facebook page – plus a range of new market reports that have been completed. We will continue to update you as we go.

This week, we focused on working with our partners through the health protocols and answering any questions they have about re-opening. Below are some feedbacks from them to date and some of their areas of concern that as an industry, we need to work-hard to fill the information gaps.

“Couples are really interested in travelling to the South Pacific at the moment and when Vanuatu borders open, we expect there would be a strong demand from couples as well as families. For the next 12 months, we expect South Pacific destinations to be a hot favourite for Australians that want to stay a little closer to home when travelling internationally. We are hoping Vanuatu resorts reopen relatively quickly to service this demand.” Mr. Farid Hacene - National Marketing Manager at Island Escapes.

“We will be ready and willing to promote Vanuatu when appropriate, although we are recruiting resources as we are a bit light on the ground at present. We are really concerned to know the state of properties on reopening, after long closure period. How exciting though that a bit of normality isn’t that far away and that light at the end of the tunnel is coming to fruition and our leisure tourists making their way back to enjoy Vanuatu YAY!” Mrs. Shelley Gutry - Product Manager at Our Pacific.

INTERNATIONAL MARKETING PLANS

We understand that people are anxious to see the final marketing programs. These plans are tightly linked in terms of timing and messaging to what products and experiences are going to be available in country.

The plans should be available for the opening phase soon for sharing with the industry. It should be noted that VTO, in partnership with Air Vanuatu, have been in campaign mode all year. With a Vanuatu focus at the International Media Marketplace (IMM) and a special trade event earlier this year, we centered around a PR led-approach campaign as the most efficient way to optimize our investments, pending the Government’s announcement on border reopening and the protocols.

We have run a digital data activation campaign across New Zealand and continue to communicate through our owned assets and databases for the opening messages. This week alone, the VTO has spoken with over 15 of our key international partners about opening protocols and product and experiences. Our market intelligence suggests that following some of the challenges that were experienced in making bookings and meeting visitor expectations by Fiji and Cook Islands, means a soft approach by the trade partners.

VTO is working hard to get clarity on what the visitor experience will be once borders are open. The last thing we need is unhappy guests. Our international teams are also available, should operators wish to contact them and VTO are planning an industry webinar to share the forward marketing plans.

It should be noted that VTO have actively maintained its ‘Always On Approach’ to marketing to ensure that our brand equity has been maintained. We learnt from cyclone recovery that maintaining a presence and our networks was the best approach to take, which helps to make recovery easier.

I also note the question regarding recovery numbers. What market intelligence has indicated is that recovery comes in stages. There is a strong sugar-hit immediately as visitors use credits and visit friends and relatives and businesses reconnect. However, tourists hold back until there is a level of confidence and clarity around protocols and that borders will remain open over time.

Aviation seat availability and costs are also critical in consumer decision making about travel.

DEALS FOR OUR WEBSITE

The Vanuatu Tourism Office is looking for deals and offers to update on our website. You may remember that we use on our website to encourage people to dog deep and understand the prices and options available.

Let us know what you have available to help consumers with their purchasing decisions.
Here is an example to remind you what we are looking for - https://www.vanuatu.travel/NZ/deals

For more information on how to get your deals on the VTO’s website, please contact our team, Mrs. Alcina Charley (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Ms. Alexina Delaplane(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who will guide you through the process.

WORKER ATTRACTION CAMPAIGN

The Worker attraction campaign has continued this week with the objective of encouraging people to consider a career in tourism and hospitality.

To date, the campaign has generated 177,897 impressions, 20, 604 views, 198 shares with an average engagement rate of 15% per impression.

CRUISE

There have been additional meetings regarding cruise this week with Royal Caribbean and agents for Carnival and P & O Cruises who are working on the cruise resumption plan abiding to the Vanuatu Ministry of Health travel protocols and plans are underway for a visit following border openings.

We understand one of the major issues facing operators who focus on the cruise market is the update of their insurance policies. Discussions will need to determine what options are available to assist.