Thursday, December 11, 2014

Maskelyne Canoe Race and Festival 28th – 29th of July 2015

The 2 day interactive and entertaining festival is set to kick off again in 2015. The amazing Maskelyne Canoe race festival on the South of Malekula features custom dances, canoe races, traditional fire making, canoe building weaving demonstrations, kava competition and a big island night to end the festival. Come and immerse yourself in traditional custom dances unique to Maskelyne.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Celebrity Century visits this week

The big and beautiful cruise liner, Celebrity Century, moored at the wharf in Port Vila for the very first time on Tuesday (yesterday) this week, carrying over 2000 passengers & crew members. Celebrity is cruising to Espiritu Santo to enjoy the northern islands beauty and down south, Mystery Island will welcome passengers from around the world. Celebrity Cruises is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, a global cruise vacation company that also owns Royal Caribbean International, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Brent's Pottery Exhibition is on next week!

Brent Malessas’ pottery exhibition for 2014 is being held at the FRENCH CULTURAL CENTRE from Monday 8th to 10th of December.  It’s on daily from 9am  to  5pm. There are some fantastic pieces of work from an extremely talented young man who has only been potting for 2 ½ years.  All pots are fired to Stoneware temperature (1,300 °C) making them suitable for cooking in and placing in dishwashers.  Over the last 6 months Brent has been testing local clay from Teouma. Thanks to Robert and Lana Rokvich for allowing him to dig on their property and also a big thanks to Felix Nguyen of Erapo Diggers for supplying trucks and machines at no cost.  Many of the pots being exhibited are now being made with local clay content. Click here to view & like Brent's page

Australian travel agents venture to Vanuatu

A group of 22 intrepid Australian travel agents ventured to Port Vila and the outer islands of Vanuatu after winning their spot on the famil by completing Vanuatu Tourism Office’s online agent training. The whole group had time to explore the diverse tourism offering of Port Vila, then half the group got up close and personal with the fiery Mount Yasur on the island of Tanna, while the others took in the views at the picturesque Champagne Beach, Port Olry and swam in one of Vanuatu’s infamous blue holes.  

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sailors choose Vanuatu

News source Vanuatu Daily Post, Wednesday 26th November 2014 issue: Click on left screen shot for full viewing.

Notable sponsors support Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence 2014

November 28, 2014 media release – Rallying behind the tourism sector, renowned local businesses are signing up as sponsors for the upcoming Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence, open for entries from all tour and accommodation providers across the country. With the deadline for entries extended to Monday 8 December, notable sponsors are signing up to support individual awards across a variety of categories, judged by a panel consisting of international and local experts. Air Vanuatu and the Daily Post are lending their valued support as the airline sponsor and media partner, while Your is producing all multimedia content. Individual award categories, such as luxury accommodation, cultural and eco tours, adventure activity and front of house, will be sponsored by AON insurance brokers, P&O Cruises, Adventures in Paradise and the Vanuatu Hotels and Resorts Association respectively. “The Tourism Awards are very excited and grateful to have such a high caliber of generous sponsors,” said Linda Kalpoi, Chairlady of the Westpac Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence Committee and General Manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office.

Vanuatu launches international product - Lapita’s Tamarind Chutney

From l-r: Mary Narfi Navaika (Ministry of Trade and Industries EO), Ms Astrid Boulekon of  Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce, Prof. Helen Wallace of Sunshine Coast University, Vatausi McKenzie of Lapita Cafe, rep for Ministry of Trade and Industries DG, and Ioan Viji of Department of Forestry. 
Article & photo by Alcina Charlie, Senior Communications & E-Marketing for VTO: The official launching of Lapita’s Tamarind Chutney, which took place this week on Wednesday 26th November, is a result of more than 2 years of value chain research and development work in the tamarind industry with financial and technical support from Pacific Agribusiness for Development Initiative (PARDI), a program funded by AusAID through the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR). This is a milestone achievement for Vanuatu as a first ever Vanuatu & Australian Government funded project, that has been trialed, tested and piloted by Lapita, passing standards legislation of the Australian export/traded goods, Vanuatu's very own first international product. "It's a proud moment for the whole country, and also the Ni-Vanuatu communities who are living in Australia will be able to enjoy Tamarind chutney from home sweet home" beams Ms Votausi MacKenzie, Lapita's visionary business owner.

Monday, November 24, 2014

2014 Hokulani Garden Show

This year the Hokulani Dance Troupe will be holding its 3rd annual event on Saturday 6th December 2014 from 3.00pm-6.30pm. The Garden show will be a casual family outdoors event and will therefore be staged at the Bred Bank gym. The organizers are proud to once again showcase the group's hard work throughout the year. 'Hokulani' which means ‘Stars from heaven" in Hawaiin, got established in 2005 with 6 ladies dedicated to spread their passion of Polynesian entertainment to the Vanuatu community. Nine years later the troupe has grown to approximately 25 members. The troupe performs to various Tahitian and Hawaiian melodies. Bring your mats / picnic blankets for a relaxing outing! A simple BBQ, drinks and great raffle prizes will be on sale throughout the Garden show. Should you have any further enquiries, contact Lisa Faivre on mobile +678 7120190, Sandra Guyot on +678 7766220, Vivian Wong on +678 7741688. Email: Visit

Jump Start Foundation and Vanuatu, a special love affair

Melissa's Story of Support (by Melissa Fairbairn): This is Caroline (and I), a teacher at Epau primary school, Efate Island Vanuatu who was delighted to receive an assortment of teaching aids included in the education packs taken over to Vanuatu by Jump Start Foundation (JSF) group of volunteers who travelled there in July 2014. I was delighted to have the job of sourcing the supplies to be included in the education packs that we gave to the students at Epau and the teaching aids. Each child received a bag containing stationery such as pencils, exercise books, scissors and many other items. The Education packs also included two literacy activity books and a dictionary for each child. 

VTO participates at DEMA 2014

Sue Herrick converses with dive wholesaler, MaryJane  Augustine of Dolphin Destiny Adventures, after successfully signing for a group of 16 divers for October next year.
Ms Sue Herrick, VTO representative for the Northern Americas and USA market promoted the destination at the DEMA Show 2014 from November 19-22 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. VTO has been a part of this dive trade show for many years and shares its booth location with Fiji, Australia, Tahiti and Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific section. In addition to manning the booth, Sue makes time to visit all the wholesalers selling dive travel to the South Pacific, and is on the lookout for operators and those looking to new destinations in the future.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wik Blong Vanuatu a huge success

Week Blong Vanuatu this year kept Place des Cocotiers in Noumea, New Caledonia, pulsating and full of energy from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th November. During the trade fair, participants of the tourism industry from Vanuatu joined the VTO representative Martine Robin to promote the destination by talking about what Vanuatu offers to its holiday seekers, handing out destination brochures as well as enticing consumers into booking special holiday packages that will be running until end of March 2015.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Touramex New Caledonia tours to Vanuatu

Last week, the VTO was busy coordinating New Caledonia's Touramex famil, a group of 6 travel agents, who flew to Port Vila on Wednesday 12 November and left on Sunday. After experiencing a wholesome representation of what Vanuatu can offer to its French New Caledonian market, the agents are now refreshed with new and exciting products to add to holiday packages suited for that market. The team was split into two groups with one group flying to Malekula and the other to Espiritu Santo, where they were fascinated about the traditions and culture of both islands, including pleasurable soft adventures offered on both these islands. In Malekula, highlight activities included visiting the Small Nambas at Rano and Hone Vaghal at Vao, a stop over at Amelbati Cannibal Site & Chiefs Grave, Copra & sightseeing tour, Losinwei cascades and waterfall walk, and going on the Big nambas tribal tour. On Espiritu Santo, Group 2 couldn't get enough of Champagne beach, the blue hole, Riri river canoeing, as well as enjoyed panoramic sights around Luganville and outskirts.

Monday, November 17, 2014

High Commissioners host pre-cyclone cocktail

Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners Jeremy Bruer (left) and Georgina Roberts (right).
On the evening of Thursday 13th November, the Vanuatu Tourism Office was invited to attend a special function hosted by the Australian High Commissioner Jeremy Bruer at his beautiful residence on Elluk Plateau over looking towards Erakor island. 
Around 50 private sector business men and women, including Management of Promedical and NDMO, gathered at the High Commissioner's residence for talks on safety measures during cyclone season. 

Vanuatu welcomes Betty Emma

Three days after Air Vanuatu’s newly purchased ATR72-500 "Betty Emma" departed Kuala Lumpur bound for Port Vila, her journey ended with a splendid welcome ceremony of the aircraft on Wednesday last week. VTO was invited to witness Betty Emma's maiden arrival at the Bauerfield airport, alongside Government officials and Air Vanuatu stakeholders as well as industry partners.

Fogarty becomes Chantilly's new Food & Beverage Manager

Media release: Salon Culinaire 2014 is over and Chantilly’s On The Bay, is pleased to welcome James Fogarty to the team as Food and Beverage Manager. The name sounds familiar??  James snuck back in just before Vanuatu’s premier hospitality event and is now settled in. James comes with a unique background and skillset having been born on Efate, schooled at Escole Francaise, Port Vila and finishing with boarding school at King’s College, Auckland, NZ. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

News from Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa, Port Vila, Vanuatu

Much has happened at the Warwick Le Lagon Resort in Vanuatu. Here are a few exciting updates from the resort: The resort now has a New Events & Weddings Manager Ms Sasha Eburne, the resort's "Funtastik Kids Club" has undergone a makeover to provide kids of most ages something fun and exciting to do during their stay. This includes adding a kids Mini cinema, Mini kitchen with cooking classes and a PS3 gaming room.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Last joins Department of Tourism

Miss Rebecca Last has just joined the Department of Tourism (DOT) taking on the Technical Advisor role (under the Australian Volunteer for International Development program). Last commenced her role on the 3rd November and she will work for 12 months, alongside Mr Jerry Spooner (Principal Accreditation Officer for DOT) to provide support and way forward within the Tourism Accreditation Division. Ms Last, originally from England before moving to Melbourne in 2000, has background and experience in Destination adventure travel (15 years of experience) specializing in Asia and more recently managing Technical Advisors placed within Pacific Island Governments.

Taste buds tantalized by talented student chefs!

My Kumala gnocchi, extra delicious!
By Alcina Charlie, VTO Senior e-marketing and Communications: After a full on and enjoyable week at the Salon Culinaire, I was shouted a delicious lunch at Nabanga Restaurant at the Tourism school HTLTC (Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Training Centrer) as I told one of  the trainer's I was very happy to snap up a few photos to support their image library. When my husband and I arrived, we got a pleasant welcome at the entrance of the restaurant by the Supervisor of the Day, Ms Joana Liu, and she greeted us with a big bright smile and the ambience that followed subsided my over-worked nerves and got me all chill-axed, if there's such a word. Our duty waitress was Jennifer and she was very detailed in explaining what was on the menu which we very much appreciated.

Tour Pacific marks Vanuatu an "All in One"

Mr Bador and Ms Josefin at Vila Chaumieres.
The Vanuatu Tourism Office has been busy coordinating as well as hosting a number of trade and media groups that have arrived in Port Vila in the last 2 weeks. One of the groups was a Swedish wholesaler, Tour Pacific, that puts together holiday packages for islands throughout the South Pacific. Ms Josefin Palmen, was here with her partner from 29th October to 05th November and discovered Vanuatu boasting a bit of everything from all the pacific islands. According to VTO’s Trade Manager, Mr Sebastien Bador who hosted the Swedish wholesaler on the final night before their departure, he comments, “Ms Josefin was very excited on future prospects of selling holiday packages for the islands of Vanuatu.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cookies that make you go Mmm..

By Alcina Charlie, VTO Senior Communications & e-Marketing. After chatting with Mrs Vatausi McKenzie of Lapita Cafe about what was in the pipeline for our Australian Media crew arriving the next day, it was time for... drum roll please... some coffee! "Would you like a cookie with your coffee?" she asked. "I would love one thanks" I replied. Next thing you know, a saucer came with some Lapita Coconut Ginger cookies on it, and oh my, the taste still lingers as I write which goes something along the lines of absolutely delisioso! crunchy, sweet, fresh, wholesome, homely, and best of all... the ginger gave my palates a pleasant kick, and because I like anything and everything spicy, I was very happy with the ginger (thanks Lapita)!

Gourmet writers can't get enough of Vanuatu

Group photo before gearing up for abseiling.
Even the heavy downpour didn't wash away the fun nor bright smiles that beamed across to the camera through what almost seemed as torrential rain on Friday last week. The VTO hosted an Australian media group of 4 travel/cuisine writers, Jane Ash
Annie Dang, Chee Peng Law and Melissa Matheson, primarily focusing on culinary with a twist for culture and adventure. Ms Naomi Joyce who is the Australian Media Representative for the VTO led the team to Port Vila after weeks of coordinating with Head Office in Vila to organize the group's itinerary highlighting the gourmet/cuisine of Vanuatu including tours and activities from 06th to 10th November. Readership in total for all 4 writers writing for Billy Law – A table for Two, John Burfitt Jamaica Blue’s Escape magazine, TV Soap magazine, Rowena Ryan travel section, and Fairfax Travel (Traveller on Sunday), covers over 800,000 to a million plus subscribers which is excellent exposure for Vanuatu. With this, VTO would like to sincerely thank the following industry colleagues who have generously supported the group's itinerary Air Vanuatu, Iririki Island Resort, Evergreen Tours, Tanna Coffee, Edge Vanuatu, Nafonu Tatoka Tours, Au Fare Restaurant, Au Peche Mignon Restaurant, Lapita Cafe, Adventures in Paradise, Meridian Charters, L'Houstalet Restaurant, Kayaking Vanuatu, and Tamanu on the Beach.

David Kirkland's Best of 2014

Posted 01 Nov 2014: I know, it's a bit early to call but I have back-to-back assignments starting this week so I thought this might be a good time to post a selection of some of my favourite images from 2014. Apart from sharing the photos, posting them like this provides me with the opportunity to readily review the year's work and look for ways to broaden and improve my style and refine it to the needs of my clients. Destinations featured in the selection include South Africa, Vanuatu, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Samoa and Australia. My promotional cycle starts this week and, with six assignments already booked for 2015, it's shaping up to be an equally busy year. Click to view Kirkland's Bests for 2014.

MineTan launches Win a Holiday for Two to Vanuatu

 MineTan along with Air Vanuatu, Vanuatu Tourism and Villa 25 are giving guests the chance to experience the beauty of Vanuatu - an archipelago of 83 islands with stunning beaches, pristine waterfalls and friendly people. Win return economy flights to Port Vila with Air Vanuatu for two people and four nights at Villa 25 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Includes a chance to win one of five Mine Tan summer tanning packs. The promotion has gone live with MineTan and Priceline stores until the end of January 2015. Like the competition and get a chance to win (go to Mine Tan Body Skin on Facebook).

What’s Your Holiday Experience? Share it with us

“You’re tired and stressed, your phone screen just cracked and you’re out of milk. You need a holiday! But what type of holiday do you need?  Luckily for you Vanuatu offers everything from adventure and culture to relaxation and luxury. Take a quick quiz to find out which experience is best for you" . Vanuatu Tourism Office Australia is running a social media campaign to create awareness of the different types of holiday that are on offer in Vanuatu.  

Want to Win a trip to Vanuatu?

There’s nothing that Kate, Tim & Marty love more than holidays! So this week they’ve teamed up with their mates at Vanuatu Tourism… and they’ve got 5 tropical island holidays to be won! Everyday this week we’re giving you the chance to fly Air Vanuatu to a tropical island, to stay 5 nights at The Holiday Inn Vanuatu courtesy of our mates at Flight Centre. To win, we need YOU to answer 'Who’s in our VAN-uatu?' Kate, Tim & Marty have found a celebrity hiding in their Kombi on a beach in Vanuatu… and it’s your job to work out who! Simply register your details below…

Espiritu Santo and Tanna Workshops help outer islands operators to enter tourism awards

By Sara King: Workshops were held in Luganville and Tanna this week to provide hotel, bungalow and tour operators with information on how to enter the Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence. With entries now open and closing on December 1, operators from across Vanuatu are encouraged to apply the national program. In Tanna, fifteen island bungalow and tour operators attended the workshop organized in partnership with the Department of Tourism, where they were guided through the process and given entry booklets to fill out.  
Published in Daily Post 3rd November 2014.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Entries open for Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence October 28 – December 1

The Vanuatu Tourism Awards for Excellence 2014 are accepting entries from tour and accommodation operators from across the country. Operators are invited to submit their entries into a variety of 12 categories, designed to align each award with all areas of the tour and accommodation industry. 
Accommodation and tour operators can attend on November 6 or November 19, 2014 in Port Vila. Espiritu Santo Workshop for Tourism Awards for Excellence to be held on Wednesday, November 5.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Princess Anne retraces her father’s footsteps to Vanuatu

Photo © Noblesse & Royautés.
30 October, 2014: Prince Philip still believed to be a God who descended from their spirit ancestors. Princess Anne followed in the footsteps of her father this week, landing on the white sands of Vanuatu, as part of her southern hemisphere tour.  Today, Prince Philip is still worshiped by the people of Tanna’s Yaohnanen village, who believe that the Duke of Edinburgh is in fact a holy mountain spirit from ancient legends. 
Their belief was further strengthened after the Prince joined Queen Elizabeth II on their official visit to Vanuatu in 1974.  The legend has passed down through generations and shrines dedicated to the Duke and adorned with his portrait can be seen by visitors to this day.
White Grass Ocean Resort on Tanna can organise bespoke tours for travellers eager to experience the ‘cargo cult’ firsthand, packages start at AUD$73 per person (VT6500).  

Malekula and Ambrym islands - Open to Explorers

Beautiful sunset along south west bay in Malekula. Photo by Alcina Charlie.
By Edna Paolo, Manager, Malampa Office of the Department of Tourism, published in Daily Post:‘The beautiful and authentic outer islands of Malekula, and Ambrym have never been more accessible to travelers and tourists than right now with the upcoming launch on Saturday November 1st of 12 new and unique multi-day packages to the region,’ says Edna Paolo, the Manager of the Malampa Office of the Department of Tourism. ‘ Call Centre – the not-for-profit regional marketing and reservation entity based in Malekula, has pooled together all 37 of its Ni-Vanuatu run tourism products – accommodation, tours and transfer services - to offer guests numerous options for travel to these islands, ensuring there is something for all types of travelers – both international and domestic’, She says.

Malampa Province packaged for Travelers

Malampa province is ready to welcome all travelers. Photo by Alcina Charlie, Lumete Bungalows, SWB on Malekula.
By Edna Paolo, Manager, Malampa Office of the Department of Tourism: The beautiful and authentic outer islands of Malekula, Ambrym and Paama have never been more accessible to travelers and tourists than right now with the upcoming launch on Saturday November 1st of 12 new and unique multi-day packages to the region,’ says Edna Paolo, the Manager of the Malampa Office of the Department of Tourism.

Air Vanuatu welcomes new GM Engineering

Media release 21 October 2014: Air Vanuatu has announced Jim Samson has been appointed the general manager of engineering at the airline. “Jim comes to us with a wealth of experience, including 10 years as the General Manager of Engineering for Air Pacific (Fiji Airways),” Chief Executive Officer Joseph Laloyer said. Mr. Samson’s appointment comes at a time when the airline is expanding its fleet with the addition of the second ATR-72 500 aircraft and requiring strong leadership in the engineering department. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Final checks on ATR before arrival

Air Vanuatu engineers and flight crew are conducting final checks on the recently purchased ATR72-500 in Kuala Lumpur before departing for Port Vila. The second ATR is the same model aircraft as Air Vanuatu’s existing ATR72-500, purchased in 2009.  “As with any significant investment, we want to ensure we are completely satisfied with the aircraft before leaving Kuala Lumpur,” Chief Executive Officer Joseph Laloyer said. “Our engineers and pilots are in the final stages of thoroughly checking the aircraft and its manuals in preparation for departure. We are excited about the arrival, however cannot rush these final engineering checks.” Media inquiries: Tiffany Carroll Tel +678 7747153 or

Beachvolley golden girls continue to put Vanuatu on the world map!

Beach Volleyball Media Release 27 October 2014: Vanuatu defeats Australia to win gold at the Hong Kong OpenVanuatu’s golden beach volleyball girls continue to excel on the world stage. On Sunday 26 October, the new pairing of Miller Pata and Linline Mansale defeated Australia in the final of the Asian Beach Volleyball Tour Event in Hong Kong. The girls lost a close first set 21-18 but responded strongly and took the second set 21-17. After going down 9-6 in a tightly contested third and final set, the girls found the resolve to draw level at 12-12. In an exciting fight to the finish, they eventually won 17-15.

Vanuatu at SPTO UK Roadshow

Ms Baude (in floral) and agents at the roadshow.
The  representative for The Vanuatu Tourism Office in Europe, Jeanette Mckeague Baude, took part in the annual SPTO UK Roadshow. This year the group visited Cambridge, Gatwick, Birmingham and Chester.  The events attracted even more guests then were registered which was really encouraging. The event was given a true Pacific flavour as a group of Fijian seranaders, from Fiji, accompanied the group.  Agents were informed of the SPTO South Pacific Specialist training program where this quarter, a lucky member could win an eight day trip to Vanuatu, in a draw.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Huge success for 2014 Origin Salon Culinare

Dessert using only local ingredients.
Port Vila, Vanuatu, 26th October 2014: In celebration of the 10th year of the Vanuatu Chefs and Food Handlers Association the consensus was that it was a very successful event. Billed as the premier hospitality event to showcase Vanuatu chefs, front of house and back of house people, the Origin Salon Culinaire this year included new events and a record number of competitors across all the competition events. President of the Vanuatu Chefs and Food Handlers Association, Isaac Boyle said “The show went extremely well, we are thrilled with the exposure provided for our industry and a big thanks to our sponsors and all the competitors. The annual show is organized by a small group of passionate people who are grateful for the industry support to showcase Ni-Vanuatu talent.” 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Holiday Inn Resort wins big during the Origin Salon Culinaire

Port Vila, Vanuatu, 26th October 2014: It was an exciting end to a big week for the team from the Holiday Inn Resort when they accepted the converted Origin Restaurant Challenge Trophy at the Salon Culinaire Gala Dinner on Friday night.  For the past three years of the Salon Culinaire the big players end the extensive week of competition with the hotly contested restaurant challenge, and this year the old hands were competing against new players to the tough competition. Old hands at the competition Holiday Inn Resort (2012 and 2014 Winners), Iririki Island Resort & Spa (2013 Winners, 2nd place 2014) were joined by The Havannah (3rd place 2014), Sunset Bungalows Resort, Breakas Beach Resort and Melanesian Port Vila in their first ever Restaurant Challenge. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Raising the bar up in Vanuatu culinary - Well done Vanuatu chefs!

So good to see our Ni-Vanuatu chefs (junior & senior) stepping up the level with what they can whip up for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, cocktails, coffees and more to satisfy anyone and everyone ;-) Photos by Alcina Charlie - VTO Communications & e-Marketing.