Regional arrivals weakens by 10.7pc

TOURIST arrivals in the Pacific ACP and South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) member countries weakened by 10.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 552,170.

This, according to the recently released “Quarterly Review of Tourist Arrivals in Pacific Island Countries for the Fourth Quarter of 2017” by the SPTO’s Research and Statistics Division, reversed the stronger 4.8 per cent growth in the prior September quarter.

According to the report, the drop in visitor arrivals over the December 2017 quarter was dragged down by the reduction in arrivals to all the PICs except for Tuvalu and New Caledonia with estimated growth of 48.9 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively.

It noted that double digit declines were seen in arrivals to Marshall Islands by 50.3 per cent, Timor Leste 19.9 per cent, American Samoa 18 per cent, Palau 16 per cent, Kiribati 14 per cent, PNG 12.3 per cent, Cook Islands 11.6 per cent and Fiji 11.5 per cent.

There was however a slight drop in the arrivals in Solomon Islands by 2.3 per cent.

Falling arrivals were also estimated for FSM, Niue, Tonga and Vanuatu over the quarter.

The report further stated that aside from the low seasonality period, the weak performance was also triggered by the reduction in outbound Australian and New Zealand residents to PICs during the quarter.

But when compared with the December quarter of 2016, tourist arrivals to the region however, rose by 7.4 per cent.

Growth was boosted by rising arrivals to Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste over the twelve months period.

Estimated growths were also recorded for arrivals to French Polynesia, Niue, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu over the period.

On market shares, Fiji continued to dominate the number of arrivals in the region with 40 per cent share in the December quarter of 2017.

The second highest was French Polynesia with estimated shares of 9.3 per cent, followed by Samoa at 7.8 per cent, and Cook Islands closely behind at 7.7 per cent share.

According to SPTO chief executive officer Chris Cocker, the research and statistics analysis released in the report played a vital role in assessing global trends.

“It’s a key tool for regional tourism to assess their markets individually and as a whole,” Mr Cocker said.

“It’s especially noteworthy to mention that arrivals from the PICs major source markets recorded a remarkable 11 per cent increase against the December quarter of 2016 but weakened by 10.7 per cent to 552,170 over the September quarter.

“The healthy growth over the longer twelve months period was attributed by a maximum surge in arrivals from other Asia by 76.6 per cent.”