Vanuatu Tourism has declared 2012 a record year, with its thriving cruise sector playing an important role in the strong result.
The year saw arrivals rise 15% on 2011 figures to 108,161, making it the strongest year to date as it smashed the former 2009 record by 7,000 visitors. The figure exceeded 10% growth targets set by Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) for 2012.
Cruising turned in a 41% increase in passenger arrivals as a growing number of ships carried 218,667 to the destination's shores.
Australia remained its number one source market, accounting for 61% of the market share. Aussie numbers to the destination climbed 9.6% on the previous year to 64,900 visitors.
VTO general manager, Linda Kalpoi, expressed excitement that growth is being seen from both key source and emerging markets.
"We are so pleased that our expectations have been exceeded," she siad. "The VTO and tourism industry in Vanuatu has worked hard to grow these numbers to reach this record breaking level and we thank the support that our wholesale partners have shown to help drive bookings."
Kalpoi revealed the target for 2013 will be to grow visitor arrivals by a further 10%, by concentraing on growing visitation to outer islands such as Tanna and Espiritu Santo.
"Our marketing efforts will concentrate on our major markets of Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia and also support to build thr secondary markets of Europe, USA and some Asian countries," she said.