Pacific confident of good response from China's Tourism Minister
China's Minister for Culture and Tourism, Luo Shugang, gave a positive response to the key issues raised by Pacific Island countries in their bid to cash in on China's tourism market.
Mr Shugang was among high profile guests at the official launching of the China Pacific Tourism Year 2019 in Apia on Monday night.
Christopher Cocker, who is the South Pacific Tourism Organisation CEO, confirmed this after the launch on Monday night.
"It’s good that we heard from the Minister positive response that they are going to seriously consider. This is not just a one off event but see a development of tourism in the next five years opening but we stress the significance of sustainable tourism development," he said.
Serious consideration is essential if the Pacific is serious about developing its emerging tourism outbound markets.
"Because China Pacific Tourism Year is only a platform, a foundation so we want to build on that, because it’s only a one year event but we wanted it to be about five years.
"So the key issues that we discussed and raised with them was on giving us a strategy to help us develop a market tourism in the Chinese market.
"The second one we asked of them to look at is market representation of the Pacific in China. And the other one is empowerment and we need our people to be trained to be China Ready, and the trade in China to be Pacific Ready, and also to try and learn sustainable best practices," he said.
Mr Cocker said they also presented SPTO membership's perspectives due to plans of diversifying donor funding.
"And China, we are asking for them to look at membership in different categories in this case and presenting our strategic plans, so I think the key interest was to raise these key issues with them.
"And let them consider seriously, because if we want to seriously develop tourism in China, we need the resources and we need to be guided properly in terms of direction in this case," he said.
Although the number of Chinese outbound tourist numbers would excite Pacific Island nations, he said the numbers are too big for the region to handle.
"There’s 140 million Chinese tourists outbound – that’s too many for the Pacific, there’s too many that can come in – and we just want certain niches in this case.
"But the campaign is important because we need to build on the momentum or continue because the awareness of the Pacific is very low, in this case in China," said Mr. Cocker.
Also according to the SPTO CEO, the China Pacific Tourism Year 2019 launch was just the beginning of each island countries' tourism year celebrations.
"So Samoa launches it and the other nine countries in the Pacific will have their own events so this is the official marking.
"The next one will probably be in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in this case and moves around – the idea is to close the China Pacific Tourism Year in China during the China International Travel Mart in this case," he added.