The head of the Kiribati tourism authority believes being added to China's list of approved destinations will be a game-changer.
The announcement came after the Kiribati president Taneti Maamau visited Beijing and signed up to China's 'Belt and Road Initiative'.
The head of the authority, Petero Manufolau, said the new status paved the way for marketing Kiribati and lent more weight to the country's discussions with airlines and potential investors.
But Mr Manufolau said the real challenge in dealing with a market the size of China was being realistic about what kind of tourism it could sustain.
"We are a unique small niche-market driven destination and for a market like China we won't be going for the masses.
"So, what we are looking at is an opportunity to identify the type of market that we think will be sustainable for us in the long-term out of China, and once we have identified that we can then develop products here on the ground to sort of cater to the very niche driven market," he said.