9 Aug 2019

Wallis and Futuna: the Pacific's newest tourist destination

4:10 pm on 9 August 2019

Wallis and Futuna has set a target of 10,000 visitors a year in a new strategy to move its tourism industry forward.

Wallis and Futuna islanders perform a kava ceremony during celebrations at Vaitupu.

Wallis and Futuna islanders perform a kava ceremony during celebrations at Vaitupu. Photo: Supplied

The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Lauriane Verge, revealed there were 100 visitors to the island last year.

The focus, she said, would now be on niche tourism experiences such as cultural, historical, marine ecotourism among others.

Ms Verge said Wallis and Futuna had a vibrant and unique culture and they will want to maintain that while introducing the Pacific's newest destination market.

"We are very proud to show our island and to receive people, receive tourists in our island," she said.

"It's true it's good for the economy and everything but for us, the most important thing is to keep our island like this.

"And our culture is very strong," she said

Strategy

A team from the South Pacific Tourism Organisation visited the French territory to help the islanders define their tourism marketing strategy.

Wallis and Futuna joined the SPTO last year as part of their plan to sustainably increase visitor arrivals.

"The SPTO team promoted private sector membership, increased knowledge of Wallis & Futuna as a destination and scoped out key tourist attractions," Ms Verge said.

"The group also inspected tourist facilities, conducted training and provided information on the services SPTO provides to member countries."

Wallis and Futuna is a French territory nestled in the Pacific - halfway between Tonga, Tuvalu, Fiji and the Samoas.

There are 13,000 people living on the island with most of them in the capital Mata Utu.

Ms Verge said the islanders are proud to have visitors which will benefit the economy

Lauriane Verge is the president of the Wallis & Futuna Chamber of Commerce.

Lauriane Verge is the president of the Wallis & Futuna Chamber of Commerce. Photo: Supplied

"But we do not want to have too many visitors like the Cook Islands' 100,000."

She said while they want to develop the tourism industry, they also want to maintain their culture.

"We are very proud to show our island and to receive people, receive tourists in our island," she said.

"It's true it's good for the economy and everything but for us, the most important thing is to keep our island like this. And our culture is very strong."

Potential

SPTO chair David Vaeafe said Wallis and Futuna has potential to attract visitors due to its uniqueness in culture and pristine environment.

He said they would work closely with the island's stakeholders to define their targets and marketing strategies.

Mr Vaeafe said they introduced the islanders to some of the SPTO private sector members including Fiji Airways, Royal Tongan Airlines and Rosie Tours.

"Wallis and Futuna only has one airline and Talofa Airways has also applied for flying rights from Samoa to Wallis and Futuna," he said.

"We're also looking at developing their cruise ship sector especially the expedition-type market - the three to four hundred-type ships, it would be ideal for them."

Mr Vaeafe said success can be achieved by contant collaboration between all parties involved - both "internally and internationally".

Wallis and Futuna celebrated its national day on 29 July and the Miss Wallis and Futuna Pageant on 27 July which was last held in 2007.

David Vaeafe is the chairman of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

David Vaeafe is the chairman of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation. Photo: Supplied