The Kingdom of Tonga has enjoyed long diplomatic and bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China.
Apart from receiving continuous assistance in the area of infrastructure and human resource development, Tonga is also benefitting from China’s growing interest in Tourism. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Tonga in July 2015 by the Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration, His Excellency, Mr. Li Jinzao and the former Minister of Infrastructure and Tourism, to implement a Roadmap for Tourism Development in the Kingdom.
The MOU has opened up an important milestone and chapter in Tonga’s history and tourism, and has strengthened and expedited intercultural dialogue and exchanges between the two countries.
Chinese Travel Agents and Tour Operators were brought into Tonga immediately after the signing of the MOU to inspect facilities and tourist related services in preparation for Chinese Tourist arrivals.
Both Governments have also changed their visa policy to grant Chinese Tourists a 30 day entry visa upon arrival in the Kingdom and vice-versa. It is an attempt to fast-track the Kingdom’s Tourism, Trade and Investment developments.
Tonga has already participated in two important tourism meetings hosted by China in May and September this year. The International Island Tourism Conference held in September concluded with Tonga signing a Friendship and Collaboration Agreement with the Mayor of Zhoushan City, Wen Nuan. Tonga was represented at the conference by the Deputy CEO for Tourism, Mr. Sione Finau Moala-Mafi, the First Secretary at the Tonga Embassy in Beijing, Mr. Tupou Vaipulu, Lady ‘Eseta Fusitua and Mrs. Pulotu Palu of Palu Aviation. Tonga’s Commissioner for Trade and Tourism, Mr. Tony Chen and his staff, including Ms. Satua Tuakoi, Tevita Pasi were also in attendance. The conference gave Tonga another opportunity to promote and strengthen its relationship with the Chinese tourist market.
Alongside the international Conference, a Tourism Exhibition was held and Tonga was able to showcase what it can offer, especially its unique cultural heritage and marina activities.
Chinese investors had also expressed an interest in developing Five star Resorts and Hotels and alternative air travel routes. They are looking into the possibility of direct flights from Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Zhoushan to Tonga. This will certainly reduce travel hours from 15 to 9 hours and avoid the hassle of obtaining transit or stopover visas in other countries including New Zealand. Tonga’s revised visa policy for Chinese tourists has been regarded as a significant bonus making travel to Tonga for Chinese nationals a lot easier and convenient. It is possible that Tonga could become a Hub for Chinese tourists to the Pacific Region.
The Tonga Ministry of Tourism is optimistic that the continuing exchanges between the Kingdom of Tonga and the People’s Republic of China will continue to be strengthened to boost economic development and help Tongans who depend heavily on tourism for their livelihood.
Issued by the: The Ministry of Tourism