Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lelepa Office opened at Chief Roi Mata’s Domain, World Heritage site in Vanuatu

News source Daily Post, 14 May 2013: Chief Roi Mata’s Domain is the first site in Vanuatu that was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Chief Roi Mata is the last paramount chief in early 17th century. The property includes Roi Mata’s residence (Mangass Village), the site of his death (Fels cave in Lelepa Island) and mass burial site (Artok Island). Local communities manage Roi Mata Cultural Tours. Entirely owned by communities, local guides allow visitors to visit the sites and places associated with Chief Roi Mata. The Tours include a traditional performance depicting the time of Chief Roi Mata and a Melanesian lunch prepared by local communities. World Heritage site of the Chief Roi Mata’s Domain now has a permanent office recently opened on Lelepa Island.  The opening on 5 May 2013 marked a significant day in the history of the World Heritage site, the first World Heritage site in Vanuatu that was successfully inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. In his remark, Mr Richard Matanik, Chair of the Management Committee of the site, acknowledged generous support of donors and partners such as the Government of Australia through the Pacific Public Sector Linkage Programme, UNESCO and UNDP for all the works done for the site since its inscription including maintenance, buffer zone protection and land use.  He invited the church groups, women’s groups and youth to use the new office space and its equipments with care as it would help them in their works. Ms Brigitte Laboukly, representative of Vanuatu Cultural Centre at the opening, congratulated the Management Committee for their commitment to the site and the completion of the office with UNDP funding, as well as community members for their continuous support towards all the projects at this World Heritage site. She also thanked the International Advisory Group for their advices and support and assured the chiefs and community on the continuous support of Vanuatu Cultural Centre. Link to story

Turn Port Vila into ‘Pearl of the South Pacific’: Crowby

By Len Garae, Daily Post: May 23 morning, Minister for Internal Affairs Patrick Crowby has appealed to the Central Government, Port Vila Municipal Council, Shefa Province, Private Sector and citizens of Port Vila to turn Port Vila into the “Pearl of the South Pacific”. The Minister made the call in his address to mark the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government, Port Vila Municipal Council and Shefa Province towards the building of the longest walk way from the Market House to Faturmaru Bay in what is termed the “Joint Port Vila Beautification Project”.
The project is to be funded by traditional donor partners New Zealand and Australia. The total cost of the project has yet to be announced. The Minister is not new to the project as it was he who initiated the beautification project complete with its colourful Christmas lights and Fatumaru Bay waterfall when he was the Mayor of Port Vila Municipal Council. He called on the people of Port Vila to take good care of the new project when it is finished saying, “We all come from near and far to live in our multicultural community in Port Vila and it is our duty to take great care of our environment to keep it clean, beautiful for ourselves and our visitors. “Let us not forget that it takes exceptional generosity for the indigenous landowners of Ifira and their chief to allow us to live and work here in Port Vila. For this reason, I appeal to all of us to show respect for our environment to keep it beautiful because that respect will filter through to the custom landowners of Port Vila”. Crowby specifically asked for “one minute of silence” to honour the late Paul Gardissat for his contributions towards the original beautification project. He said the MOU coincided with the Government’s 100th Day Policy Framework.  In his address the Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities Esmon Simon paid tribute to the late chief of Ifira Chief Graham Kalsakau II for his foresight in seeing such a walk way well ahead of its time, and thanked the custom landowners for allowing their land for use to development Port Vila. He said the Beautification Project has to be coordinated through a “cooperative approach” bearing in mind that it is going to reflect the “first impression” of Vanuatu when visitors see Port Vila so it is vital to keep the Capital smart, clean and beautiful. The Minister said his Ministry is also responsible for the conditions of the roads and it is his duty to work in line with the project to get the roads fixed to march the beauty of the natural environment of Port Vila.

Lord Mayor Ruben Olul also welcomed the project in the same spirit that the Government sees tourism as everyone’s business. “Keeping Port Vila beautiful is every citizen’s business”, he said. He assured the Government that his Council through its Working Committee will work side by side with the Government in line with its 100th Day Policy Framework towards achieving its objectives. He said the Beautification Project reflects the spirit of cooperation that has grown between the stakeholders to put their hands together to develop the city’s sea front.

He thanked the Chief of Ifira and his people for allowing their custom land to develop Port Vila. Minister of Planning and Climate Change Adaptation Thomas Laken said the Technical Working Group to oversee the implementation of the project has thirteen members. He thanked the Governments of New Zealand and Australia for funding the project saying the working group will meet on a weekly basis to ensure that the project develops in a systematic manner towards implementation and report back to the MOU signatories. The working group’s lifespan runs from May 22 to August 31. He Minister promised that the working group’s programme from May 22 to August 31 will bring about improvement of infrastructure within Port Vila, improvement of work between all stakeholder projects and an overall facelift of the image of Port Vila. Acting Director General of Tourism George Borugu welcomed the signatories and stakeholders present and appealed to the institutions and people of the Capital City to keep the environment clean and healthy.

Miss Vanuatu 2013 not just a beauty pageant

VTO media release 24 May 2012:  This June, Miss Vanuatu Committee is hosting the national event at Saralana Stage, Port-Vila. The pageant will be held on the 8 June and one talented Ni-Vanuatu woman will be crowned Miss Vanuatu 2013. 
The event brings together young women from all parts of the country for the purpose of profiling beauty and intelligence within Vanuatu. Miss Vanuatu 2013 will become an ambassador for the women of Vanuatu and will be the face of Vanuatu locally, regionally and globally. This year, Miss Vanuatu 2013 will also attend Miss Asia Pacific World pageant in Korea in August as well as Miss South Pacific in Solomon Islands in December.
The last contest was held in 2005 where the gifted Ms Glenda Laban won the title of Miss Vanuatu Tourism, since then this ‘brain and beauty’ pageant has evolved into an influential platform providing advice and assistance to young Ni-Vanuatu women. 
The 10 selected finalists are: 
01 - Valérie Martinez - 23 - Tanna
02 - Talia Ayong - 22 - Ifira
03 - Joséphine Mahit - 22 - Paama
04 - Jenifer Watson - 20 - Malekula
05 - Oliniva Litoung - 19 - Malekula
06 - Emily Bani - 20 - Tongoa/ Ambae
07 - Julina Bangga - 21 - Ambae/ Tanna
08 - Lavinia Taleo - 19 - Efate
09 - Jeanine Taravaki - 19 - Efate/ Tanna
10 - Anne-Lise Thyna - 21 - Malekula
The public presentation, including the Best Talent competition, will be a free event held on 3 June at the Saralana Stage and then the beauty pageant will be held on Saturday 8 June at the Saralana Stage. 
Tickets for the beauty pageant are currently on sale at the Vanuatu Tourism Office, Port-Vila. Pre ticket sales for over 12 years are 1,500VT; and 1,000VT for under 12 years. Be quick as ticket sales at the gate will be 2,000VT for everyone. A table of 10 is 30,000VT, including seating under the marquee and nibbles.
 “It is good to have this event back on the scene as it helps in developing an equal opportunity for the Ni-Vanuatu young women to use their God given talents in taking the lead to promote their pride of Vanuatu.  This will form part of the destination marketing awareness for the world to further discover what matters” said Mr Sebastien Bador, VTO Events Manager. “Miss Vanuatu pageant recognises and promotes the attributed, intelligence and talents of Ni-Vanuatu women for their contribution in the development of our archipelago.”
The event has been organised through partnerships with FM107, GRD, Midas Consultancy, Spice Indian Restaurant, Vanuatu Tourism Office, Vanuatu Travel Inbound. The Committee would like to thank the events confirmed sponsors: Air Vanuatu, BRED bank, Port-Vila Municipal Council, Sun Productions Printers, Vanuatu Treasures. Sponsorship options are still open to any interested individuals/ businesses.

For further details about Vanuatu or for more information on Miss Vanuatu please visit 

VTO visits beautiful VAO Island, in Malekula

By Patrick Vuraboravoi, VTO Santo Officer: I received a letter of invitation from the chiefs, local tourism authorities and communities of Vao for a visit. The date was confirmed and scheduled for 27th & 28th April, 2013.  The communities on Vao heard about Glenn Russell creativity in tourism activity on Sanma province - Millennium Cave, the Lysepsep Park, Riri River, Port Olry and many more…invited him be part of the team.

Our routes started from Luganville to Naonepan Malo landing  and taxi boat across to Malo Island then travel across to the East side of Malo on public transport and another boat across the Bougainville strait to Vao island. It’s a two hours ride across Bougainville strait.

On approach from distance, the island has big banyan trees and coconut palms along the coast. The surrounding crystal deep blue sea right on to shore and beautiful white sandy beach to the south east side dotted with canoes along the shoreline is just a perfect postcard.  

After a short briefing by the local community on arrival, we took a hike along the Tourist Path around the island that was constructed by the community as a first sign of tourism development some years back. Then everything went to a dead end even through the little island has 3 MPs in National Parliament and few councillors in the provincial authorities.

Unlike other places where events are past and long gone, Vao is still maintaining the old traditional cultural practices to this present day. Most events are annually during the soft yam harvest (March – May) and Strong yam (August – January). Other events will depend very much on preparation from one to two years. One of the recently cultural event was the ‘Matean’ that happened early this year where an elderly person performed certain ceremony/ ritual to his uncles while still alive. In most places, this is done after death. The nearby cultural dance group attended the ceremony as far as Wala and Rano island.

We walked the Tourist Path that Vao community has created past various interesting sites from wood carvings, rock carving, some taboo restricted areas and finally the seven (7) cultural sites on the island as the main highlights.  Some of these sites extend to around 100m long with countless standing rocks about 3m high that marked past ceremonies some 200 years old. Vao has been part of the olden trading system connected with Malo, Aese island, Ambae, Pentecost and Ambrym. See details of trade at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre library.

This is a truly cultural destination that we have to develop and promote to the world. I have been to the Big Nambas and Smol Nambas various sites but Vao has something that is real and alive (see images below).
During this short visit, Glenn Russell and I put our ideas together and create a VAO TOUR that visitors can enjoy as a day trip or overnight.

Getting There
Public transport cost VT 500 per person from Norsup or Lakatoro to Vao mainland. And canoe trip at VT50 per person across.  For overnight trip, contact Oralie of Nabelchel bungalows (+ 5416575).

VTO and Air Vanuatu team up at Travel Weekly roadshow

Vanuatu Tourism Office and Air Vanuatu joined the Travel Weekly roadshow event in Melbourne on 7 May at the RACV Club as a Platinum sponsor.  At this event VTO and Air Vanuatu has a booth and spoke with over 80 travel agents about Vanuatu and promoted special travel agent fares to Vanuatu.  Anne Morris, Australian Representative for VTO also conducted a presentation and gave away a prize to one lucky winner courtesy of Warwick Le Lagon, The Melanesian and Air Vanuatu.  Other Platinum sponsors who presented and gave away prizes at the at the event were Air Niugini and Oman Tourism.  The next event is to be held in Sydney at the Ivy on 29 May. Photo caption: Paul Forbes, Air Vanuatu sales manager and Anne Morris VTO Australia representative.

Eden on the River

By Sebastien Bador, VTO Events & Trade: Recently (26th April), the VTO attended the official launching of Vanuatu latest tourism product: Eden on the River. Allan Kalfabun, Marketing Manager, and  Sebastien Bador, Events & Trade Manager, went to Carolyn and Joe Ernst property at Rentabao. They were met and greeted by friendly and smily staff after a short drive off the main round the island road and through nice trees plantation. They joined just in time the inaugural "Bridges of Eden" tour, which conducted them down the cliff to the roaring Rentabao river. The tour guides briefed them on how to move from one suspended bridge to another one with the appropriate modern equipment before going on the tour. This one include the crossing of three suspended bridges over the river and between mighty trees, ending with a short zipline. Back on the shore and up to the venue, official speeches were done by Carolyn Ernst and the Hon. Moana Carcasses, Prime Minister. The coconut front cutting illustrated the official opening, and was officiated by the Prime Minister. A light and nice lunch made from organic and local produces was served to the guests. Sebastien Bador, Events Manager, went on a second tour named "Eden Farm Park". This one features Vanuatu wildlife like Pacific boa constrictor snakes, flying foxes, wild pigeons and green lizards. It also enable the visitors to approach closely farm animals. "This tour is a great opprtunity for urban kids to see for real what is a cow, a horse, a ship, a pig or even a duck. Most of our international visitors come from big cities such as Sydney, Brisbane or Auckland. Connections with the countryside have been lost for many of them, and they may not have the possibility to get close to farmyard animals. " said Sebastien. "And for those who have this chance there is our wildlife. Is there any better souvenir for a kid than a photo than showing him with a snake around his shoulders or a green lizard on the top of his head?" The Vanuatu Tourism Office thanks Mr & Mrs Ernst for expanding Vanuatu touristic activities offer, and wish Eden on the River a successful life.