Tourism Continues To Flourish In The Oceania Region

2017 final results for the Oceania region show continued growth of tourist arrivals for the majority of Pacific Island Nations

Monitored arrivals throughout the year have indicated significant increases in visitation to the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. However, as Chris Flynn, Regional Director, Pacific for PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), explains, Fiji remains the most popular destination representing more than 50% of all arrivals to the Pacific region.

Australia and New Zealand remain the dominant source markets for all Pacific Islands tourism arrivals, but indications suggest we will see strong growth from both the US and EU markets in 2017. We also expect a noticeable increase in Chinese arrivals, although this is from a relatively low base.

A key driver of growth has been increased air access to the region as airlines expand their route networks to capitalise on new emerging markets. In particular we see that Air Nuguini’s continued expansion into Asia coupled with increased capacity within the Pacific. This will ensure passengers have the ability to use Port Moresby as a key gateway to the region. Likewise, the recent announcement by Air Calin to completely revamp their entire jet eet guarantees they will be in good shape to capitalise on international and regional growth opportunities. Other carriers such as Air Vanuatu and Fiji Airways have also increased regional capacity with new and improved services expected to be rolled out in 2018 and beyond. The re-establishment of Samoa Airways, formerly Polynesian Airlines, as the national carrier of the country was an exciting development in 2017. Operating to Samoa’s key sources markets of Australia and New Zealand, the new Samoa Airlines builds upon a long well-established history. Working in conjunction with the Samoa Tourism Authority we can expect a vibrant partnership to emerge, designed to increased market share though tactical marketing initiatives and increased distribution.


One of the most noticeable drivers of increased visitation to the region has been the rapid rise of the cruise sector. Being extremely attractive cruise destinations in their own right, Australia and New Zealand produce the majority of Pacific island cruise visitors with approximately 66% of all Australian departures having a Pacific component to their itineraries. Similarly, around 52% of all New Zealand cruise passenger visit the Pacific region.

I believe the positive developments we have witnessed during the previous two years have created a much stronger platform for growth. I am confident therefore that, barring any major regional upsets, 2018 should be another positive year for tourism arrivals for the Oceanic region.

Photo: Chris Flynn, Regional Director, Pacific for PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association)