Public-private partnerships and a shared vision between Vanuatu Tourism Office, Air Vanuatu and Vanuatu Airports Ltd were some of the initiatives shared at the 17th Tok Tok tourism event in Vanuatu last week. This followed the previous week’s reveal of the country’s new tourism brand and tagline – Answer the Call of Vanuatu. Launched in January, the 2030 Aviation and Tourism Vision pulls together in-market destination awareness, air connectivity and aviation infrastructure development to ensure not only more international visitors, but dispersal into the provinces. According to Vanuatu’s 2018 International Visitor Survey, just 10% of visitors travelled beyond the main island of Efate.
‘Our aim is for 10 to 30% of visitors to disperse among the six provinces, says Adela Issachar, chief executive officer of VTO. ‘We need the connectivity to work, the pricing has to be right and the flights reliable and on time.’ In addition to the Tourism Vision, an upcoming amendment to the Vanuatu Tourism Office Act will mean that all tourism operators will need to contribute to tourism office funding. Issachar says the amendment will also ensure that operators abide by tourism standards. ‘They will need to obtain a permit and be market ready and able to benefit from destination marketing. It is about the quality of the product and experience they are offering.’ More than 50 buyers and 50 sellers enjoyed a positive vibe at Tok Tok, filling the conference centre at Warwick Le Lagon in Port Vila. Scheduled appointments doubled over 2018 to 1020 and there were around a dozen new products exhibiting.
Many of the new products had come on line over the last two years but were only now ready for the international market. The VTO has worked with training providers and established operators to help get them up to speed. ‘They are now able to exhibit because they are market ready,’ says Issachar. ‘We’re also helping travel centres package better itineraries and product. ‘We have come along way, the last two years have been busy working and this is a great result. We’ve had private sector input, shared resources and identified specific market segments.’ One of those segments is weddings which continues to be a big focus for VTO. Business events is another, and by the end of the year the VTO intends to appoint a dedicated business events specialist.