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Mice Net : October 2009
114 mice.net island events But it's not just their love of sport that creates synergies between New Caledonia and Australia. Beautiful beaches and architectural icons abound. New Caledonia's most spectacular architectural statement is the Tjibaou Cultural Centre whose stunning design was created by the famous Pritzker Prize winner Renzo Piano. Conveniently located just 10 minutes from the city centre, it brilliantly merges Kanak culture and modern architecture with four state-of-the-art meeting and auditorium facilities catering for small groups up to 400 people. In addition to this is the newly refurbished Nouméa Aquarium, a popular tourist attraction with conference facilities for up to 350 people. New Caledonia is where the South Pacific meets the French Riviera and where a unique blend of French and Melanesian culture offers a way of life completely different to Australia. You can enjoy the best of both worlds from the tribal history of the Melanesian people to sought after French culinary experiences - activities that might extend to utilising TV chef, Gabriel Gaté, New Caledonia's gourmet ambassador, to act as a culinary food and wine guide. Synonymous with French cuisine in Australia, Gabriel promotes New Caledonia as the ultimate haven for foodies looking for an experience that is all about the finer things in life - good food and wine in a stunning setting. Visit www.newcaledonia.com.au Vanuatu With 13 arrivals each week from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, the ease of access to the South Pacific island of Vanuatu has been buoyed by its increased air capacity which includes the Air Vanuatu flights from Melbourne launched last year. Overall, Vanuatu reports a strong first half of 2009 with the number of visitors increasing 15.3 percent compared to the first six months of 2008. This growth has been led by Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Annie Niatu, general manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office says these results "are encouraging in the current tough economic times. With its close proximity to Australia, affordable airfares and authentic travel experience, Vanuatu seems to be striking a cord with Australians," she says. Hoteliers report corporate conference and incentive bookings are relatively stable despite the economic downturn and some have seen a particular surge in last minute corporate bookings. In October this year Air Vanuatu will receive a new ATR72 which will increase capacity to Vanuatu's outer islands of Espiritu Santo and Tanna and make it easier for meeting organisers to include some of the amazing experiences available on the outer islands in their itineraries or as post-tour options. Both Santo and Tanna offer inspiring once-in-a-lifetime experiences perfect for incentive travel such as climbing to the rim of Mount Yasur, one of the world's most accessible live volcanoes, learning to dive or advanced diving on the famous SS President Coolidge, or visiting villages where people still live a traditional lifestyle, relatively unaffected by western culture and technology. Ms Niatu said that Vanuatu is particularly suitable for smaller meetings and incentives of approximately 80 guests such as those hosted by Iririki Island Resort, in easy access to the mainland. These include the Dive Conference in May when partners and families finished each day with nightly buffets around the multi-level cascading lagoon pool. The convenience of Iririki's main jetty meant dive expeditions could depart directly from the island. Again in May, a manufacturer of pool products treated their incentive reward suppliers and retail clients to a week of fun at Iririki. It was a week which kicked off with a welcome breakfast hosted at the resort's Sunset Café beside the lagoon pool. Business was discussed during a round of 18 holes at the Port Vila Golf & Country Club, while the non-golfers and children enjoyed a day "at the beach" visiting Hideaway Island's marine park sanctuary in the morning and joining the golfers for a burger lunch. A gala dinner with a Melanesian Feast was hosted on Irikiki's beach, complete with kava tasting and cultural performances. It was an evening which began with a traditional warrior welcome with the host arriving in a traditional canoe and being welcomed with a peace ceremony by the chief from Fatuna. Visit www.tourismvanuatu.com/. Samoa As a business tourism destination Samoa is still in its infancy. Here life moves at a more leisurely pace, much like Fiji before the big resorts moved in. Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa and the historic Aggie Grey's Hotel Samoa, both on the main island of Upolu are the country's most deluxe resort hotels, however for a cost effective event there is plenty of inspirational boutique and budget accommodation. As the crow flies Samoa is 4400km from Sydney -- a picture postcard of natural beauty offering a variety of different environments to explore. Aggie Grey's Hotel in the capital Apia is an iconic symbol in the South Pacific. The late Aggie Grey (allegedly the inspiration for James A Mitchener's "Bloody Mary" in Tales of the South Pacific),