An international visitor survey shows that tourists spent $145 million in Vanuatu in 2016, an increase of 9 percent over 2015.

The survey was led by the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) in collaboration with the Vanuatu Government, a statement from the IFC World Bank Group has announced.

Undertaken by the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute (NZTRI) of Auckland University, the survey measures travel patterns, behaviors, and spending by Vanuatu’s international visitors arriving by air.

IFC Regional Manager in the Pacific, Tom Jacobs, said the survey, now in its second year provides year-on-year data that can be used to inform tourism development.

“The survey has noted a 6-percent increase in arrivals, and it shows visitors are also spending more (per person), which increases the impact of the sector,” said Jacobs.

According to the statement, travelers completed an online survey upon returning home from Vanuatu.

Results show that visitors from Australia, New Zealand, and New Caledonia to Vanuatu constitute 74 percent of all tourist arrivals.

Most visitors, 97 percent, stay in Port Vila.

Survey results also demonstrated that the island of Tanna is growing in popularity with 17 percent of visitors traveling there, an increase of 2 percent from 2015.

Visitors stated that the people, activities, and environment are the most appealing aspects of holidaying in Vanuatu.

Four out of five visitors would like to return in the future, with 86 percent saying they would like to visit an outer island next time, cited the survey.

The Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) General Manager, Adela Aru said in a statement: “These results show that there is still plenty of work to be done to increase visitors from Australia, New Zealand to reach 2014 level.

“We need to continue to capture the attention of visitors who are looking to book an island holiday, attract those who enjoyed their stay to return, and also tap into our high-spending long-haul and niche markets.”

The ongoing survey is a joint effort between VTO, Vanuatu National Statistics Office, Department of Tourism the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at Auckland University, with support from IFC, through the Pacific Partnership.

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