Tuvalu Accommodation Operators Go Online with Hotel Link Solutions

Tuvalu tourism accommodation operators with no hotel websites of their own will receive Hotel Link Solutions e-marketing support from the South Pacific Tourism Organization as part of its Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Project.

Last week, local accommodation providers in Tuvalu took part in a first-for-Tuvalu workshop explaining recent trends in online sales and how to leverage the Internet to grow business. Attended by over 14 representatives from local accommodation providers and other Tuvalu tourism stakeholders, the assembly was presided over by Mr. Tarataake Teannaki, Project Coordinator of the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), Mr. Len Cordiner, Director of Hotel Link Solutions and CEO of the WHL Group, and Mr. Chris Brimble, Knowledge & Information Manager of Pacific Trade and Invest (PT&I), all working in partnership with the Tuvalu Tourism Office.

Immediately following the workshop, there were further presentations of a new Hotel Link Solutions project that will provide all workshop participants with e-commerce-enabled websites, online booking functionality and access to a range of hotel-room distribution tools. The project, managed by SPTO, is being funded by the European Union as part of the 10th European Development Fund’s Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Programme (PRTCBP). It is also supported by PT&I.

“Hotel Link Solutions, which is part of the WHL Group, has developed a unique program to assist small- and medium-scale accommodation providers with online market access,” explained Mr. Cordiner. “It involves training, creating digital content and e-commerce-enabled websites and, most importantly, engaging a local partner on the ground to support accommodations over the longer term. At Hotel Links Solutions, we have the tools – from simple websites to channel management – to connect even the smallest accommodation to the global market; however, it is a journey most small accommodations will take time to master and the local support is critical to a sustainable outcome.”

As a first step in gathering the data required for the Hotel Link Solutions services, visits were made to every participating property. Photographs and other digital content were collected, all to be used in the development of new state-of-the-industry hotel websites. These websites, supported by staff trained in the use of all associated tools, are expected to be fully operational by mid year. During a visit to Funafuti atoll, local skills were identified to work with Hotel Link Solutions and provide much-needed IT support and follow-up training for the operators.

Additionally, PT&I representative Mr. Chris Brimble talked with the tourism stakeholders on the island about the support PT&I will provide in graphic design work and through a tourism investment database project being jointly developed by SPTO and PT&I.

Mr. Teannaki commented that during workshop and subsequent information-gathering exercises the support and feedback from participating operators was excellent and demonstrates the clear interest in this e-marketing support project. “The tourism accommodation operators on this tiny island of Tuvalu commended SPTO for the project, which they confirmed is the first project in a long time that will provide tangible benefits to individual businesses,” he added.

The Ministry of Tourism in Tuvalu has been working to grow tourism in Tuvalu. It recently established a Tourism Stakeholders Association and is reviewing its National Tourism Policy and Strategy. “Although the Tuvalu Tourism Office is the smallest in the South Pacific region, the staff did an excellent job with arrangements for this visit, and they should be commended,” said Mr. Teannaki.