Vanuatu tourism partners create awareness on support programmes for industry recovery

The Department of Tourism has embarked on training provincial tourism managers about programmes that are aimed at helping Vanuatu’s tourism industry recover from the effects of COVID-19.

Director of DoT Jerry Spooner said, “It is critical our provincial managers are fully trained and aware of the Government support programmes that have been developed for tourism operators to ensure they can assist all of our tourism operators in the provinces to access these programmes”.

The programmes include the Tourism Business Support Programme, COVID Safe Business Operations Guidelines for Workplaces and the Produktif Turism Blong Yumi Initiative.

At the training, VBL Media also presented a step-by-step guide on how to use the new National Booking Platform.

The National Booking Platform is created by VBL Media and fully funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to assist the tourism industry recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DoT and the Department of Industry as part of a six-member Advisory board will manage the National Booking Platform to support tourism operators and others to have further reach to tourists in Vanuatu’s source markets to prepare for the easing of border restrictions.

The National Booking Platform will create one main online e-commerce tourism hub that plans to initially showcase 500 businesses (tours and activities, accommodation, transport, and handicrafts) from among the 6 provinces.

The Directors of VBL Media, Tony Cretier and Lewis Fleming, feel strongly about Software Development as a means to really improve a business’s performance and the National Booking Platform will certainly prove that.

The Department of Tourism Provincial Managers commented on the ease of using the platform and how they believe the interconnectivity and access to statistical data will really assist them in better assisting the Provinces they serve.

The Produktif Turism Blong Yumi initiative has several components which include Slow Food Education and Support Programme; Traditional Cuisine Revival Programme; Agritourism Marketing and Research Support Programme; and Agritourism Product Development and Business Support Programme.

The initiative aims to develop and promote Agritourism businesses and raise the profile of Traditional local cuisine and Traditional farming practices, while still supporting the initiative of supplying local food to resorts and restaurants through the Slow Food (farm to table) movement and the sale of local value added goods through the Vanuatu Made Programme.

As part of the Agritourism Product Development and Business Support Programme the Vanuatu Government has supported the establishment of a Vanuatu Agritourism Association made up of tourism businesses throughout the 6 Provinces of Vanuatu that meet the definition of agritourism agreed on by the National Agritourism Committee.

Product development support will now be carried out for all 30 Agritourism Association members to ensure all members are high quality and ‘Market Ready’ for when border restrictions ease.

This work will be carried out in all Provinces alongside the TBSP and National Booking Platform.

The total travel and tourism industry's contributions to Vanuatu’s GDP is about 40%  and total employement is 36%.

However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has severly reduced revenue for the mainly-tourism dependent economy.

Photo supplied  Caption: Photo Caption: DoT staff and tourism operators at the awareness workshop.   

Tensly Sumbe