Destinations

Aussie interest in New Caledonia on the rise

Anne Majumdar

The arrival of a number of international brands onto New Caledonia’s hotel scene has helped stoke Australian interest in the destination, according to Aircalin’s country manager Australia Brett Walsh.

Walsh told Travel Weekly that the airline had seen passenger numbers from Australia rise 25% in 2015 on the previous year, with revenue up 26%.

“We’re very happy with that,” he said.

The growth has been reflected in figures recently released by New Caledonia Tourism which show a 15.8% increase in the number of Aussies visiting the destination making Australia is second largest market after France.

Walsh attributed the strong levels of growth to the airline’s close cooperation with New Caledonia Tourism, the inbound tour operators and the destination’s hotels.

“Previously Le Mériden was really the only international brand people were familiar with,” Walsh explained. “Now, there’s the Hilton in Nouméa and a brand new Sheraton.”

In addition, the two Le Méridien properties in Noumea and the Ile des Pins have been renovated to “push them up to true five-star standard”.

“Having international brand hotels that Australian consumers are familiar with has certainly helped,” he said.

As the French territory moves away from its dependence on the nickel industry, tourism has taken on a new importance and Aircalin is working hard with other stakeholders to grow leisure tourism to the destination.

“The nickel is not going to last forever so our main objective and goals are to grow the leisure market, and Australia is the number one place we are focusing on,” Walsh said.

Its proximity to Australia – just three hours from Sydney, two hours from Brisbane and four hours from Melbourne – make it an appealing holiday destination for a holiday or even a long weekend getaway, according to Walsh.

Its unspoilt natural landscapes and strong French influence are also major drawcards, he continued.

“Australians can enjoy the Frenchness without the cost of having to fly to France,” he said. With no import tax on French wines and champagnes, they can be purchased at very reasonable prices.

“People think that it’s expensive here because it’s part of France, but that’s not at all the case.”

Walsh highlighted Aircalin’s “modern renovated fleet”, new livery and inflight product, promising more modernisation is on the cards.

Meanwhile, New Caledonia Tourism has rolled out the second phase of its “Hello Neighbour” campaign.

“The focus of the new campaign will continue to be around New Caledonia’s proximity as one of Australia’s closest Pacific neighbours, but will feature an interactive social media treasure hunt,” sales and marketing director Caroline Brunel said.

“A first for a destination marketing organisation, the interactive activity will entice consumers to explore New Caledonia’s pectacular neighbourhoods through a series of captivating images.”

The campaign will be hosted on social media platform Instagram enabling Aussies to explore the sandy beaches of the country’s diverse landscapes before they book a trip.

The first phase of the campaign saw ambassador Justine Schofield feature in video content, alongside the launch of a bespoke website, outdoor advertising and a competition.

Check out one of the video’s featuring Justine below:

Image credit: iStock

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