26 Nov 2004

Pacific tourism body to lobby Chinese to extend approved tourism destination

11:36 am on 26 November 2004

Members of the regional tourism body are heading to China for the first time since it joined the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

They'll meet at a travel fair this weekend, ahead of their annual council of ministers meeting next week, which was to have been held in French Polynesia but was moved to Fiji owing to political unrest.

The ousted French Polynesian president, Oscar Temaru, has been pushing to get China to approve the territory as a tourist destination.

The technical manager of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, Russ Hopkins, says this week's meeting might make it easier to forge a link between French Polynesia and China.

"Effectively in terms of approved destination status, it's really a government-to-government negotiations, so as a regional organisation, we're not terribly involved in that process. But certainly by bringing China in as a country membership then that initiates discussion with other countries and hopefully will facilitate that process."

Among the approved tourism destinations, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu can now host Chinese delegations for educational trips.