Vanuatu, the island nation in the South Pacific, has received a major tourism boost following the signing of an agreement with HNA Tourism Group, the Chinese travel giant.

The new Strategic Cooperation Agreement was signed in Hong Kong recently between the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai, and the chairman & CEO of Hainan Tourism, Xin Di, who is also a director of Hainan Airlines. It is aimed at “opening up cooperation on issues related to tourism and aviation resources”.

“Vanuatu is a holiday paradise in the South Pacific,” said Xin Di. “HNA Tourism will use its aviation, hotels, travel agencies, entertainment and other cultural resources to promote the development and upgrading of the tourism industry in Vanuatu. In addition, this will provide Chinese travellers with more options for outbound destinations.”

Vanuatu’s PM, Charlot Salwai, said that the agreement would help his country capitalise on rising interest among Chinese tourists.

“In recent years, the number of Chinese tourists to Vanuatu has risen year after year; the annual growth rate has maintained at 4%. In 2016, there were thousands of Chinese tourists who visited Vanuatu either by plane or cruise,” Mr Salwai commented. “Through cooperation with HNA Tourism we hope to further develop the tourism resources of Vanuatu and improve the infrastructure to provide a more comfortable tourism experience for Chinese tourists.

“The year 2017 marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vanuatu and China and we also hope that we can, through this initiative, further deepen the Vanuatu-China friendship,” he added.

As well as being a tropical island destination, with excellent beaches and lagoons, Vanuatu is also home to casino resorts that have the potential to attract the Chinese market.

HNA Tourism will now work with Hainan Airlines and its outbound tour operator, Caissa, to develop new itineraries and air routes to Vanuatu, as well as promoting the country as an outbound travel destination.

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