About 2000 Chinese tourists arrived in Tonga last week on the cruise ship Costa-Atlantica.
They were the first large group of Chinese tourists to visits the kingdom since the two countries agreed to allow visitors to obtain 30 day visas on arrival.
The visitors were welcomed by a Tongan delegation including HRH Prince Ulukalala, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and Tourism Minister Hon. Semisi Sik .
His Royal Highness welcomed the tourist group at the wharf and wished them Happy New Year in Mandarin.
The Police Brass Band played for the group and there was a display of traditional dancing.
The Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, His Excellency Huang Huaguang, accompanied Prince Ulukalala during a tour of the ship.
Ambassador Huang said this was the first time such a large group of Chinese tourists had visited the kingdom. He said more than 120 million Chinese travelled overseas each year.
Prime Minister Pohiva said the visit would promote the improvement of tourism infrastructure, quality of service, sustainable development of tourism and protection of Tonga’s culture and environment.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on tourism was signed in Tonga in July 2015 by the Chinese and Tongan governments.
Chinese turists can obtain a 30 day entry visa on arrival in the Kingdom and vice-versa.
Chinese investors have expressed an interest in developing five star resorts and hotels and alternative air travel routes.
According to a World Travel and Tourism Council report on Tonga for 2015, the total contribution to Tonga’s GDP in 2014 was TP$143.9m, or 17.% of GDP.
In 2014, travel and tourism’s contribution to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was estimated at 6000, or 17.4 of total employment.
About 50,000 inbound travellers were registered in Tonga in the same period.
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