Vanuatu’s annual tourism survey is funded by the Inter-national Finance Corporation, the commercial arm of the World Bank, and compiled and analysed by the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute and AUT

•Overall, tourists injected about US $145 million to the economy

• Tourist arrivals are better, but still well below what they were.

• 34,602 emails were sent to recent visitors, and 5,026 replied, accounting for 11% of all visitors during that period.

• The overwhelming majority of visitors saw only Efate, but visitors from North America, Europe and Asia were more than twice as likely to visit the outer islands than visitors from Oceania.

• Tourism operators in Tanna and Santo should be aggressively marketing themselves as a romantic adventure destination to Europe, North America and Asia. That’s where they’ll have the most attentive audience.

• Couples and close friends accounted for nearly 40% of visitors, and solo trips accounted for 14%.

• Only 11% of visitors came for business or conferences, but most of those came from the Pacific islands, and they spent way more per trip than holidaymakers: $1904/person vs $1500/person. Only long-haul visitors spent more, but most of that money was airfares.

• That’s over $30/day more than visitors from Australia & New Zealand

• Higher-end resorts take note: Business travellers from other Pacific islands allocated 62% of daily spending to accommodation, food and beverages, more than any other visitor. In terms of bang for buck, regional conferences and meetings are better money-makers than any other activity.

• Pacific islanders come for business/work more than any other reason. Regional advertising and marketing should use this.

• People learned about Vanuatu organically, mostly by word of mouth. Only 27% booked through a travel agent, and most people planned their trip using online services such as TripAdvisor, which rely heavily on customer testimonials. That teaches us two things:

  1. Industry advertising, trade shows etc. are not necessarily cost-effective;
  2. Social media is the best way to reach first-time visitors; and after-market customer care is crucial for tourism operators.

• Long-haul visitors made the effort to come because of Vanuatu’s natural wonders. Australian and New Zealand visitors overwhelmingly come see Vanuatu as a peaceful getaway.

• Everybody loves the people and the local attractions. Nobody loves the public services and facilities. And everybody hates the rubbish everywhere.

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