Thursday, June 26, 2014

Vanuatu Cruising – Discover What Matters....Vanuatu

A new perspective is being given to Vanuatu as the ultimate cruising destination. The Vanuatu Tourism Office, in conjunction with the Department of Tourism, are developing a new Cruising Vanuatu Guide and supporting website. The aim is to promote Vanuatu as a cruising destination, encouraging more yachts to discover this amazing island archipelago. Recognising the value of yachts, both in the form of direct income to its remote outer islands as well as the amount of aid given by yachts, the Vanuatu Tourism Office is giving the face of cruising in Vanuatu an update with a comprehensive and freely accessible Yachting Guide. 
Yachting VSA volunteers and photojournalists, Eric & Anne Simmons, on board their 43ft St Francis catamaran, have been assigned the task of collecting the wealth of information pertaining to the abundance of sheltered anchorages scattered through this island nation. Eric & Anne have worked extensively with Tourism Boards throughout the South Pacific and have been coming to Vanuatu since 1998.  “It’s no secret that we love Vanuatu, the people are friendly, natural wonders abound and every island is different – each one is like visiting a different country. Vanuatu is one of the few countries where real  ‘kastom’ and tradition can still be experienced, protected anchorages and welcoming villages enabling yachts to visit in safety. The Ni-Vanuatu people are wonderful, unassuming and always willing to help visitors get the most from their Vanuatu experience”. It’s not surprising that Vanuatu has been voted twice the happiest place in the world by the Happy Planet Index and the Lonely Planet. Vanuatu has so much to discover, from volcanoes, to lakes and cascading waterfalls, caves and tropical islands, WWII history with world class diving, amazing culture and a seemingly boundless range of diversity. Anne says “Most yachts that visit Vanuatu leave saying they wished they had had more time. They have no idea of the options ahead of them before they arrive. The new Cruising Guide will enable them to plan better and give them more ideas of the amazing places to visit and things to experience.” At this point the first stage of the website is live, with comprehensive details of each anchorage to be added by the end of the year. The Vanuatu Cruising Guide is available as a PDF in Vanuatu but is still a work in progress although most yachts are already finding it immensely helpful, while the Vanuatucruising Facebook page gives details of places to visit and events happening throughout the islands. The SSB Vanuatu Radio Net on 8230 at 0730 local time is a great way to keep abreast of the many festivals and cultural events nearby. Getting more yachts to visit the outer islands is a great way to support local communities that often have few other ways to gain income, by encouraging the youth to retain the ‘kastom’ skills and knowledge urban drift will slow and Vanuatu can remain the uniquely ultimate cruising destination.   For next sailing season and beyond the Vanuatu Cruising website and guide will be available to everyone for free and an invaluable resource with updated contacts, services and activities for each anchorage. Cruising the South Pacific? Explore Vanuatu and discover what matters!