Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Outer islands yachting an important Niche for Vanuatu

A Vanuatu Yachting Guide Presentation took place on Wednesday 09th October 2013 at the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) conference room. For the last five months Anne & Eric Simmons (professional underwater photographers & tourism and yachting passionates) sailed on their yacht to over thirty islands in Vanuatu with an aim to improve the accessibility and desirability of Vanuatu, as a destination for yachting tourism. The adventure bore a mission to create a yachting guide that includes recommendations for yachting tourism products and their development, a mission that was assigned by the VTO and was able to be implemented by the Simmons, thanks to the New-Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) program. 
The first findings showed Vanuatu having great potential to be a number one yachting destination in the region highlighted by strengths such as numerous ports of entry, easy sailing from island to island, warm reception by communities in the islands, and the diverse traditions  and festivals during the year that never cease to entertain as well as educate yachters about Vanuatu culture.
 However, as experienced in other sectors, there are challenges that hinder yachters to enter Vanuatu waters or enjoy longer stays in the islands. These are issues like excessive fees, lack of communication with offices responsible for Yacht registrations & applications, increasing costs to visit the islands due to high fees for anchorage, snorkeling, landing, and lastly natural threats or seasonal disasters.
The presentation lists opportunities and recommendations to be addressed to institutions responsible in yachting in order to market Vanuatu islands better, as a great yachting destination.
The VTO Trade, Events & Market Research Manager, Mr. Sebastien Bador, said “Even though yachting has minimum influence in terms of tourist air arrivals and overnight bed sales, it is still an important niche for Vanuatu as 80% of the total population live in the outer islands and yachts are injecting money 100% direct to local economy in the remote communities as yachters buy local produces from community markets, they help promote and pay entrance fees to cultural festivals, go inland hiking, and hire helpers to work and clean their yachts, which enable rural villagers to earn money boosting the local economy.” 
The VTO would like to sincerely acknowledge Anne and Eric Simmons, the New-Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad, the Department of Tourism, the provincial private sector tourism associations, the local communities, and individuals who provided their support towards implementation of this very important survey.
For more information on Vanuatu Tourism please visit: www.vanuatu.travel