New Caledonia Tourism plans courtship of South-east Asian events

Following its establishment of a destination representative for South-east Asia in July this year, New Caledonia Tourism is now looking to introduce its myriad wonders to corporate incentive groups from the region.

Speaking to TTGmice, Zhi Heng Yew, who leads New Caledonia Tourism marketing efforts in South-east Asia, said Singapore would be the first target in this exercise, as Aircalin now flies five times a week between the city-state and New Caledonia’s capital city Nouméa.

From left: Chateau Royal Beach Resort & Spa’s Valentin Schmitt; New Caledonia Tourism’s Benoit Badufle; New Cal Events’ Arnaud Pasco; and New Caledonia Tourism’s Zhi Heng Yew at the New Caledonia Tourism booth at ITB Asia 2023

Once efforts are established in Singapore, the team will then move to “explore other South-east Asian markets, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, which are traditionally also very big outbound MICE markets”, shared Yew.

“MICE agencies are always on the lookout for new destinations for their clients. New Caledonia is perfect for them,” he added.

New Caledonia Tourism describes the destination as a “vast French Archipelago in the heart of the South Pacific, with an unspoilt and unique natural environment offering an astonishing diversity of cultures, landscapes and activities”.

Yew said: “We don’t want to typecast New Caledonia as an island destination because people tend to think of beach resorts where they would just laze around and do nothing. New Caledonia is much more than a beach resort destination; we have very nice cycling paths and offer opportunities for various water activities.”

According to Yew and Arnaud Pasco, owner and general manager of New Cal Events, corporate incentive groups experiencing New Caledonia for the first time could do well with a five-day itinerary.

Groups could start in Nouméa, where delegates would go on a cultural tour, spend some time on Ouen Toro hill where they could see the whole capital city and spot some whales, and later have their gala dinner. After a day or two in Nouméa, the group could move to the Great South, which is a natural and untouched destination for short, easy hikes, waterfall sightings, and picnics. Next stop, West Coast, where they could experience “a little bit of the cowboy culture”.

Getting around is easy, via drives and short domestic flights.

A must-do, according to Pasco, is a private island day out. Groups can access several pristine, private islands using boats or helicopters, and spend the day snorkelling, scuba diving and enjoying a barbecue.

Benoit Badufle, who also represents New Caledonia Tourism, said: “Snorkelling in New Caledonia is very different from the same activity elsewhere. Here, the corals come in all colours, and you will think you are inside a giant tropical aquarium.”

New Caledonia is no stranger to business events, and has welcomed many from Australia, the destination’s top tourism source market. It has successfully organised events with some 1,000 attendees.

“However, we will start with small groups from Singapore to give New Caledonia a chance to learn about what Singaporean groups like,” said Yew.

Badufle noted that small groups of 50 to 200 will find it easy to get accommodated in the destination and to secure seats on Aircalin, which operates a double-aisle aircraft with almost 200 seats from Singapore.

Yew believes that New Caledonia is “good for incentive groups that are into nature and prioritise sustainable and responsible destinations”.

“Although New Caledonia does not openly market itself as a sustainable destination, the local community has always been respectful of the environment,” he commented.

New Caledonia is part of the Pacific Tourism Organisation, whose Pacific Sustainable Tourism Destination Standard is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

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