Adela Issachar, CEO Vanuatu Tourism Office, speaking at Tok Tok 2019 Adela Issachar, CEO Vanuatu Tourism Office, speaking at Tok Tok 2019

Vanuatu answers the call with a new vision

A business events specialist is likely to be appointed at Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) by the end of this year as the country beefs up activity around its niche markets.

‘‘We are working with the private sector and Air Vanuatu to start building a programme around our MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) market,’ says Adela Issachar, chief executive officer of VTO. ‘We have the accommodation, conference venues and logistics around transportation,’

The other segment that VTO will continue to focus on is weddings.

The VTO has spent the last two years of work on a new tourism brand and tagline – Answer the Call to Vanuatu – revealed in late August, public-private partnerships and a shared vision between Vanuatu Tourism Office, Air Vanuatu and Vanuatu Airports Ltd.

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.

In addition to the Tourism Vision, an amendment to the Vanuatu Tourism Office Act means all tourism operators will need to contribute to tourism office funding. This will also ensure that operators abide by tourism standards, says Issachar. ‘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.’

These were some of the initiatives shared at the 17thTok Tok tourism event in Vanuatu in late August. More than 50 buyers and 50 sellers enjoyed a positive vibe, 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.