Inaugural tourism exchange a success
Regional tourism organisations that participated in the inaugural South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) in Auckland have praised the event as a success. <!--more-->Pacific Island tourism operators from 16 Forum Island Countries held daily appointments with buyers and reps from around 50 international countries including Germany, Netherlands, USA and Italy.
Exhibitors were clearly happy with the quality and calibre of their appointments, being targeted and appropriate to their needs. Although some didn’t find many new contacts, it was however a chance to renew business contacts.
Fasitau Ula of Samoa Tourism Authority said the SPTE was a very good start and underlined the reason for their support for the South Pacific Tourism Organistation (SPTO). It was good to promote the region. He suggested one way for SPTO to improve marketing was to identify and differentiate between the different islands.
Robert Thompson, Director of Tahiti Tourisme was very happy with the results of SPTE 2014 as a great opportunity for all the countries to get together and also promote smaller island countries. Having SPTE in-country was beneficial as many operators and tourists were from New Zealand and Australia. Alternating the event between Australia and New Zealand could also access Asian buyers.
For organisers, hosting SPTE in New Zealand directly after TRENZ 2014, the biggest NZ tourism event bringing together more than 260 buyers and 300 exhibitors was strategically successful, with many international long haul operators from America and Europe remaining for SPTE. The event filled the void following the ceasing of Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange in 2013, when Tourism Fiji withdrew its support after countries began hosting their own travel shows.
Representatives from Tuvalu – Paufi Afelee and Fakasoa Tealei; Emelyn Simon of Marshall Islands and George Kum Kee of Kiribati National Tourism Office all agreed SPTE helped give their smaller island nations more exposure as they hardly participated in such events due to costs. They were pleased with the new interest from international buyers from countries such as New Zealand, Canada, Italy, and Germany.
Addressing more than 100 participants of the South Pacific Tourism Exchange, SPTO’s newly re-elected chairperson, Sonja Hunter said with tourist numbers into the Pacific projected to grow from the 1.6 million that visited the islands last year, island destinations needed to identify new ways to market.
Ms Hunter, who is also head of Samoa Tourism Authority, said the South Pacific Tourism Exchange was one way of capturing the projected growth in tourist numbers into the islands. “An ideal platform is for tourism operators and providers in the islands to connect directly with decision makers in their sources markets,” she said.
American Samoa Visitors Bureau Executive Director, David Vaeafe said, “Most of our meetings were with new buyers looking for new products and services to sell to their clients. At the same time we also met with our existing travel trade partners to update them on new products and services… There was strong interest from all buyers.”
A two-day workshop for regional tourism organisation officials was also held in Auckland just before the SPTE. <b>Pacific Islands Trade & Invest (PT&I)</b> Media and Stakeholder Relationships Advisor Dev Nadkarni conducted a session on the effective use of social media to augment mainstream media promotions. <b>PT&I</b> also worked with SPTO in promoting the inaugural event in New Zealand.