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BusinessTravel Guide www.asiaoutlookmag.com

South Pacific

A Portal to Paradise


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Appeal and accessibility are concepts at two different stages when it comes to the South Pacific, as the first remains almost unparalleled and the latter improves year-on-year Writer: Matthew Staff Project Manager: Ryan Gray

or a region so intrinsically linked to the notion of ‘paradise’ it comes as no surprise that the South Pacific relies primarily on tourism as its economic platform. Business and tourism are one of the same to the cluster of island nations littered around the ocean, with one only thriving if the other is enabling. Naturally, the more extensive hubs of Australia and New Zealand facilitate each state’s prevalence to a certain

extent, but in reality, the likes of Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, American Samoa, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru and Niue all have their own, unique appeals that - relatively speaking - ensure almost unrivalled visitor satisfaction and economic sustainability in equal measure. Christopher Cocker, Chief Executive Officer at the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) notes: “Tourism

ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF SOUTH PACIFIC TOURISM ORGANISATION (©SPTO)

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continues to be an important industry for the Pacific, and SPTO member governments have invested tremendously in their respective tourism sectors to ensure its sustainability. “For a long time, SPTO has strongly advocated for the tourism industry, specifically to lobby support from national leaders for the development of the sector. Now with various Pacific Island governments mainstreaming


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sustainable tourism policies in their national tourism plans and setting aside adequate budgets for their tourism promotion activities, SPTO’s message has clearly been received.” It isn’t a casual ‘going through the motions’ kind of organic development either. Through the SPTO’s hard work and each national Government’s concerted efforts, both the tourism and business travel segments within the

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region have expanded exponentially over the past few years. As recently as 10 years ago, annual visitor arrivals were nearly half of that seen in 2017. “The region has also grown in terms of source markets. We have long enjoyed Australia (30 percent) and New Zealand (20 percent) as our traditional source markets and quite confidently, tourists visiting the region were predominantly from these markets. Now, our source markets have expanded to include

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China, Japan, Europe, and the US to name a few,” Cocker explains. Vaster influences and more of a globalised sample of visitors of course adds certain pressures in terms of keeping up appearances, but each country in kind has responded accordingly; improving its levels of infrastructure, corporate facilitation and especially environmental adherences to complement the unchanging landscapes, climate, friendliness and customer service.

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Facts & Figures

AMERICAN SAMOA Capital: Pago Pago Languages: English, Samoan Area: 199 square kilometres Population (2010): 55,519 GDP (2013): $711 million Currency: USD ($) Time zone: UTC-11 Dialling code: +1 684 Internet TLD: .as Climate: Tropical

TONGA Capital: Nuku’alofa Languages: Tongan, English Area: 748 square kilometres Population (2011): 103,036 GDP (2011): $763 million Currency: Pa’anga (TOP) Time zone: UTC+13 Dialling code: +676 Internet TLD: .to Climate: Tropical Average temperature: 23°C

SAMOA Capital: Apia Languages: Samoan, English Area: 2,843 square kilometres Population (2016): 192,342 GDP (2016): $1.06 billion Currency: Tala (WST) Time zone: UTC+13 Dialling code: +685 Internet TLD: .ws Climate: Equatorial Highest recorded temperature: 27°C

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VANUATU Capital: Port Vila Languages: Bislama, French, English Area: 12,189 square kilometres Population (2016): 272, 459 GDP (2017): $723 million Currency: Vanuatu vatu (VUV) Time zone: UTC+11 Dialling code: +678 Internet TLD: .vu Climate: Tropical

KIRIBATI Capital: Tarawa Languages: English, Gilbertese Area: 811 square kilometres Population (2015): 110,136 GDP (2011): $599 million Currency: Kiribati dollar, Australian dollar (AUD) Time zone: UTC+12, 13, 14 Dialling code: +686 Internet TLD: .ki Average temperature: 28°C


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NAURU

COOK ISLANDS Capital: Avarua Languages: English, Cook Islands Maori Area: 236 square kilometres Population (2016): 17,459 GDP (2014): $311 million Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD) Time zone: UTC-10 Dialling code: +682 Internet TLD: .ck Climate: Moderate-tropical

Capital: Yaren Languages: Nauruan, English Area: 21 square kilometres Population (2011): 10,084 GDP (2017): $160 million Currency: Australian dollar (AUD) Time zone: UTC+12 Dialling code: +674 Internet TLD: .nr Climate: Equatorial Average temperature: 27°C

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MARSHALL ISLANDS

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

Capital: Majuro Languages: Marshallese Area: 181 square kilometres Population (2011): 53,158 GDP (2001): $115 million Currency: USD ($) Time zone: UTC+12 Dialling code: +692 Internet TLD: .mh

Capital: Palikir Languages: English Area: 702 square kilometres Population (2016): 104,937 GDP (2011): $310 million Currency: USD ($) Time zone: UTC+10, 11 Dialling code: +691 Internet TLD: .fm

Capital: Alofi Languages: Niuean, English Area: 261 square kilometres Population (2016): 1,624 GDP (2003): $10 million Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD) Time zone: UTC-11 Dialling code: +683 Internet TLD: .nu Climate: Tropical Average temperature: 24.5°C

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The Business End Smart and strategic marketing initiatives from each Pacific destination have further contributed to the recent success enjoyed by the region from a business travel perspective. And internally, this has had a profound knock-on effect on the local community and budding young professionals. Cocker continues: “We have a lot of young entrepreneurs in our tourism industries across the Pacific who are innovative, creative and fearless.

Downtown Nuku'alofa

“ T H E C H A L L E N G E S W E face as a region are the same as those experienced in the past. For example, infrastructure is still a problem; greater access through aviation is still lacking; and inter-island connectivity still needs to be improved,” Cocker continues in laying out the South Pacific’s continuous strive for improvement. “While we still have the same challenges, I believe our region is

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blessed with donors and development partners such as China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand etc, who are keen on providing the much-needed technical and financial assistance. “We now have better airports, improved port facilities, new roads and bridges, and other types of infrastructure that would appeal to our growing visitor numbers.”

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They are not afraid to enter into new territories. I would also add that a growing confidence in our respective business environment has contributed to the growth of the Pacific as a business travel hub.” A positive cycle has subsequently formed whereby heightened business acumen continues to encourage larger swathes of business professionals and business events to each island; resultantly encouraging the entrepreneur fraternity even further as a result. Fiji serves as a prime example to this end through its hospitality revolution which has, in turn, attracted numerous regional and international forums and conferences. “Again this then adds to the growing appeal of tourism as a whole,” Cocker

says in completing the harmonious cycle. “Several of our islands are now following in Fiji’s footsteps and I would say Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga have done quite well in establishing new routes through their respective national airlines. Such developments guarantee more business travel as connectivity is available now where it once was absent. This increases more business and tourism activity between our island countries.”

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South Pacific Tourism Organisation T H E M E E T I N G S , I N C E N T I V E S , conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market has inevitably contributed greatly to the Pacific’s heightened business status as a result of the aforementioned infrastructural developments; reflecting positively on each national Government of course, but especially on associations such as the SPTO. Christopher Cocker (CC): The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) was originally called the Tourism Council of the South Pacific (TCSP) when it was established in June, 1988. The founding members recognised the need for increased cooperation in matters relating to tourism promotion and marketing which necessitated the establishment of a body to be responsible for tourism promotion matters. They also saw the need to work together in the coordination and planning of promotion and marketing strategies to be undertaken in conjunction with the work of other regional and international organisations. Its purpose was to develop, through cooperation, the tourism industries of the South Pacific and by doing so, seek to foster travel in the region. Asia Outlook (AsO): Since inception, how has the South Pacific Tourism Organisation developed and progressed in terms of its key objectives and the messages it tries to get across?

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CC: The evolution of the organisation has been partially driven by the demands and needs of its member countries, changes in management, the availability of resources, and priorities of donor agencies. National Tourism Offices (NTOs) from its member countries and industry capacity levels have also evolved since SPTO’s establishment which has impacted upon the role and priorities of the organisation. From a solo role of tourism promotion and marketing, it has expanded its mandate to include tourism development. The organisation has gone beyond its traditional marketing role and progressed to also undertake work related to digital marketing, sustainable tourism development, research and statistics, and project management and implementation, to name a few. SPTO has secured donor funding over the years which has greatly assisted in the implementation of work programmes across the Pacific. AsO: And how has this evolution been reflected in terms of association membership numbers? CC: With the increasing need for capacity building through training, tourism marketing tools, and other priorities, coupled with SPTO’s ability to deliver accordingly, SPTO’s membership base has also increased. From nine founding government members, SPTO now has 18 government members with the inclusion of the People’s Republic of


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China. Its private sector membership has also grown to include more than a 100 members. From its TCSP days, SPTO’s traditional development partners have mainly been the European Union and the members of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific (CROP). That landscape has since changed for SPTO whose development partners now include organisations like the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Sustainable Travel International (STI), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to name a few. AsO: What is in store for the South Pacific over the course of 2018 to continue the good work already commenced and to enhance its reputation as a tourism and business travel hub further in the future? CC: Our priority over the past three years has been sustainable tourism development and we will continue to preach that over the course of 2018. It is very important for our Pacific Island members and communities to embrace the tourism sector as the source of their livelihoods, and in so doing, understand the importance of sustainable tourism. Our islands are our assets and our environments (both land and sea) are our greatest tourist attractions. We have conducted awareness training in our member countries that teach communities, public and private sectors the concept of sustainable tourism development and its importance to our daily lives. In 2017, we also began reaching out to hotels and

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accommodation providers through consultation workshops as well, with the objective of teaching them to monitor, measure, report on and address critical barriers to improving sustainable consumption and production in the tourism industry. The feedback has been very encouraging and we will continue the sustainable consumption and production programme this year. This will surely assist the sustainability of hotels so they are able to continue providing quality service to their guests with minimal cost to the environment. AsO: Finally, looking forward, what progress and development would you hope and expect to be able to report back in the future; both in regards to the South Pacific Tourism Organisation as an entity, and in regards to the business travel industry in the South Pacific as a whole? CC: For SPTO as an entity: an increase in its government membership base; an increase in donors/development partners; an increase in private sector members; an expansion of work programmes and activities implemented in member governments; and an increase in staffing for programme implementation. For the travel industry: sustainable tourism policies and practices enforced and introduced across member governments; an increase in air links and inter-island connectivity; aviation infrastructure available in countries that are in dire need of them; strengthened efforts in waste management and conservation; maximised synergies between renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region; and culinary tourism as an attraction for tourists (Pacific cuisine as a brand).

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Out & About

T H E L A T T E R F O C U S on cuisine and culinary tourism shines further light on how the region is looking to not just attract new visitors, but to strengthen every element of the visitor experience as more and more people enter each country. As a sub-set of agro-tourism, once again numerous partnerships have been set up across Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to both improve levels of agricultural production, and then to apply the fruits of said labours across a more refined food & drink industry.

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'The emphasis on new products is similarly improving the overall offering to prospective business travellers... from bird watching, diving, whale watching and island tours, to weddings, honeymoons and exclusive resort experiences'

“Our work programme in this area encourages the use of local resources in local cuisine and menus of our hotels,” Cocker details. “This not only encourages import substitution but also positions our hotels as a ‘source market’ for our farmers. We have been in Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu from 2015 undertaking this mentioned programme and we will continue with other countries in the Pacific in 2018.” The emphasis on new products is similarly improving the overall offering to prospective business travellers and tourists, facilitating everything from bird


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watching, diving, whale watching and island tours, to weddings, honeymoons and exclusive resort experiences. Cocker continues: “To experience our culture these are the kinds of attractions we have always had, however, they were under-developed and not properly maintained for tourists to enjoy them and return to our shores for a repeat holiday indulging in the same.” The situation is a whole lot different now though, and in reaction to such opportunities, sectors including hospitality, food & drink, art, history and culture have all begun to capitalise.

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'AGA Reef Resort, Jones Travel, Emerald Hotel and Brekkas Beach Resort represent just a select sample of the region’s exponents across Samoa and Tonga respectively. And they, among others, are now primed to deliver best-in-class services to an ever-expanding number of visitors'

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AGA Reef Resort, Jones Travel, Emerald Hotel and Brekkas Beach Resort represent just a select sample of the region’s exponents across Samoa and Tonga respectively. And they, among others, are now primed to deliver best-in-class services to an ever-expanding number of visitors who are being attracted by SPTO-driven events including the South Pacific Tourism Exchange, the SPTO/PATA Tourism Insights Conference, and the construction of the 212-room Hilton Port Moresby and Convention Centre in Papua New Guinea in time for the 2018 APEC Convention.

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Paradise continues to be interjected with infrastructural development as each island - Nauru in this case - looks to evolve its overall offering without tarnishing its natural appeal

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Outlook Recommends “Our islands are our assets and our environments (both land and sea) are our greatest tourist attractions.” - Christopher Cocker, CEO, SPTO

TRANSPORT

HOSPITALITY AGA Reef Resort (Samoa)

Breakas Beach Resort (Vanuatu)

FAB Rentals (Tonga)

Jones Travel (Tonga)

Captain Cook Hotel (Kiribati)

FOOD & DRINK

Emerald Hotel & Restaurant (Tonga)

Aitutaki Lagoon (Cook Islands)

Tisa’s Barefoot Bar (American Samoa)

The Mooring Fish Cafe (Cook Islands) 14

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SAMOA

Indulge Yourself IN

AWARD WINNING STYLE

P: +685 47800 | E: office@agareefresort.com | www.agareefresort.com

T: +676 23077 Long established and reputable car rental service on Tongatapu, with rates to suit most budgets.

FAB Rentals Vehicles to meet every budget • Our wide range of clean, reliable and comfortable cars enables us to choose the most suitable one for you to discover the delights of Tongatapu in comfort. • Office is open weekdays from 8am to 5pm., Saturdays 8am to 12 noon • Pick-up and drop off to Fua`amotu International and domestic airports are available at TOP $40 each way • We can arrange a driver upon request. • We can arrange to obtain a Tongan visitors drivers license for the Govt fee only for full drivers license holders from overseas, valid for 3 months

Salote Road, Ma`ufanga, Nuku`alofa, Tongatapu Island, Kingdom of Tonga E: leeintonga@gmail.com (responds quickly during working hours)

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Outlook Recommends MUSEUMS

NATURE Namu’a Island (Samoa)

Anibare Bay (Nauru)

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (Samoa)

Millennium Cave Tours (Vanuatu)

Limu Pools (Niue)

National Museum of Vanuatu (Vanuatu)

Muri Lagoon (Cook Islands)

RETAIL

Alele Museum, Library, National Archives (Marshall Islands)

Fagatogo Market (American Samoa) 16

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Emerald Hotel Comfort & Service with Style Relaxed

BEACHSIDE ISLAND RESORT VANUATU

Breakas Beach Resort is an intimate tropical retreat providing the ultimate “feet in the sand” beach holiday. Enhanced by the natural beauty of a private cove on Pango peninsular, Breakas Beach Resort rests in an unrivalled backdrop in Port Vila. The Award Winning Resort features a stunning 22 metre infinity pool which falls into the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.

Get in touch PO Box 1101 Port Vila ,Vanuatu T: +678 25844 E: reservations@breakas.com www.breakas.com

WITH US

The Emerald Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the capital, situated on the waterfront next door to the Convention Centre. The Hotel is a two minute walk from the famous Talamahu Market Place and a 4 minute walk to the Royal Palace. The Emerald is a modern and stylish boutique hotel with all the facilities for the discerning business traveler or leisure guest. There are twenty spacious boutique rooms with spectacular ocean views. The famous Emerald Restaurant serves authentic Asian cuisine with 5 private dining rooms. It is the ideal place to stay for any visitor in to Tonga.

Tel: +676 87228888 | Email: emeraldhoteltonga@gmail.com

your home a way from home The Waterfront Cafe and Lodge, the best private Tonga hotel, is situated on the waterfront over looking the Habour, with the Nuku’alofa waterfront unfolding right before you. Just a 20 minute stroll to downtown Nuku’alofa and you will soon find yourself immersed in the sights, shops and markets of the Kingdom of Tonga capital city. Most of our guests consider the Waterfront Lodge to be Tonga accommodation at its finest. If you’re looking for a base for your holiday exploration of Tongatapu or a stop-over before / after your visit to the beautiful islands of Tonga, the homely atmosphere of the Waterfront Café and Lodge will surprise you and will make your vacation simply unique.

ROOM

RESTAURANT

EVENTS

CAR RENTAL Ma’ufanga, Nuku’alofa, Tonga Tel: +676 871 4876 / 25 260 Mob: +676 772 0810 Email: waterfro1@kalianet.to www.waterfrontlodgetonga.com

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Transport Links

A S A R E P R E S E N T A T I O N of how far the South Pacific has come in recent years, you need only look at the countries’ air links. Epitomising the attractiveness of each nation and the demand that now exists among the travelling world to visit their shores; the role that the likes of Australia and New Zealand have to play as transport facilitators speaks volumes. Cocker affirms: “One should simply look at the air links into and across the Pacific to agree that we, as a region, have certainly grown as a business travel hub. The number of airlines flying into the Pacific through

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"One should simply look at the air links into and across the Pacific to agree that we, as a region, have certainly grown as a business travel hub"

entry points such as Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, etc, has increased dramatically and I am positive that this will increase in the years to come.” Once on each island, there is inevitably an expectation of getting around under your own steam, whether that’s by car or walking (depending on distance), while any number of boat companies are on hand to encourage inter-island hopping. This all adds to the charm of a paradise trip though. Nobody has ever ‘endured’ an inter-island, sundrenched sail across crystal blue seas, and the only real challenge remaining


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from a transport perspective is the initial venture to the region; especially as the appeal broadens beyond traditional Australian and New Zealand demographics. As Fiji is already showcasing though, each individual nation is slowly but surely developing its infrastructure to deal with its own demand. Cocker says: “Fiji has and will always be the leading industry in the region and the hub of the Pacific. There are increasingly more flights coming through Fiji than ever before and its state-of-the-art international airport in Nadi has left Fiji in a league of her own

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"The number of airlines flying into the Pacific through entry points such as Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, etc, has increased dramatically and I am positive that this will increase in the years to come"

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in the Pacific. There are more direct flights from Fiji that link us to Asia, the US and our traditional markets of Australia and New Zealand.” And as Cocker concludes, this trend is primed to be replicated across the rest of the region in the years to come. “Several of our islands are following in Fiji’s footsteps though and I would say Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga have done quite well in establishing new routes through their respective national airlines. Such developments guarantee more business travel as connectivity is available now where it once was absent.”

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Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon (Tonga)

“Scattered over 700,000 square kilometres in the southern Pacific Ocean are the Tonga islands. On one of the 176 islands that make up Tonga, there stands one of the strangest megalithic monuments in the Pacific, a trilithon called Ha’amonga ‘a Maui (A carrying stick/burden of Maui). There are many legends about the Ha’amonga ‘a Maui. The most prominent story says that the trilithon was made by the Maui demigod(s) because no other mortals would be able to handle such giant stones.” – Ancient Origins

Mount Yasur (Vanuatu)

“Tanna is the most populated island in Tafea Province, almost entirely Melanesian. Most of Tanna’s 30,000 inhabitants still closely follow the lifestyle of their ancestors and their customs practiced for hundreds of years... The principal attraction of Tanna is Mt Yasur, known as the most accessible active volcano in the world. Mt Yasur has... been nearly continuously erupting for centuries, although usually it can be approached safely.” – Air Taxi Vanuatu

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PHOTO: TAUʻOLUNGA

Landmark Attractions


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Nan Madol (Federated States of Micronesia)

“Off the coast of a remote Micronesian island lay the ruins of a once-great city of man-made stone islands that inspired the city of R’lyeh in H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Impressive in their own right, these ruins represent the remains of megalithic architecture on an unparalleled scale in Micronesia. Nan Madol is the biggest centre of the culture which left numerous other megalithic structures scattered on neighbouring shores on the main island of Pohnpei...” – Atlas Obscura

Ofu Beach (American Samoa)

“The beach at Ofu stretches for miles, but the sheer beauty of this curve of sand and the relative emptiness of its shores make it one of the best beaches in the world. The soft pink sands are ideal for strolling and the protected waters are home to thriving coral reefs and a variety of sea life.” – Travel Channel

To Sua Ocean Trench (Samoa)

“On the main south coast road you will find the iconic Sua giant swimming hole; a stunning attraction site featuring a unique land formation consisting of two giant holes joined via an ancient lava tube cave. One is without water and the other is a beautiful 30 metre deep swimming hole with turquoise water accessed by a ladder. This site also offers lush gardens, day fales with cliff top views, blowholes, sea arches and rock pools to explore.” – Samoa.travel

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BusinessTravel Guide joe.palliser@outlookpublishing.com

+44 (0)1603 959 676

ryan.gray@outlookpublishing.com

+44 (0)1603 959 672

w w w. a s i a o u t l o o k m a g . c o m

SOUTH PACIFIC BUSINESS TRAVEL GUIDE  

South Pacific Business Travel Guide - Asia Outlook Issue 31

SOUTH PACIFIC BUSINESS TRAVEL GUIDE  

South Pacific Business Travel Guide - Asia Outlook Issue 31