Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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.
New packages on offer include shorter stays of 3 days – such as the ‘Smol Aelan, Smol Nambas’ package taking in the legendary Small Nambas Tour at Rano, the Wala Island Historical Site Tour and Snorkel, and the Amelbati Cannibal Site Tour with 2 nights at picturesque Nawori Seaview Bungalows on the Wala coast. Or at the other end of the spectrum a combined island adventure the ‘ Malampa Volcano and Kastom’ package – an 8 day adventure that includes a Cross-Over Volcano Trek in Ambrym, Rom Dancing at Fanla, both a Big Nambas and Smol Nambas tour, and a walk up the Losinwei River to a beautiful cascading waterfall in Malekula. Call Centre was first established in 2012 thanks to a grant from New Zealand Aid and with the ongoing support of TVET for Tourism – assisting with specific vocational based training in rural Vanuatu. Not only does provide a wonderful service to international travelers but as a result of their service an increasing number of visitors are arriving from abroad contributing significantly to the economic development of the region and the people of Malampa. Staunchly independent and motivated things are looking bright and busy in the years to come for this sector of the economy. Mrs Paolo has said she would like more domestic travelers to also consider coming to Malampa. ‘The region experiences many local travelers here for business or conferences but there is room for ex-pats and others working in the bigger centers to bring their friends and families for a short break over a long weekend or an extended holiday closer to ‘home’. It is only a 50 minute flight from Vila and just 15 from Luganville – flying daily!’

Malampa offers quality authentic Melanesian bungalows – often on a quiet beach – with restaurant style meals and great Ni-Vanuatu hospitality. It offers pristine snorkeling, multi-day jungle hikes, outrigger canoe adventures, authentic cultural tours, annual festivals and geological wonders in two world-renown volcanoes – why would anyone want to miss this? says Mrs Paolo. Department of Tourism Head, Mr George Borugu, based in Port Vila has said that he is ‘Infinitely proud of Malampa’ and hopes other small regions will follow on with their good example. Serah Ety - the sole operator of the Call Centre since its inception says that the region naturally attracts a different type of tourist. ‘We have a high proportion of visitors from Europe and New Caledonia – many of them professional people wanting to have an authentic experience in a more remote area of the planet. For this reason we have a differential marketing strategy targeting more directly those who the destination naturally appeals and many independent travelers. Ms Ety says ‘We are looking at some more web-based booking options for 2015 and anticipating another increase in the workload a others discover this ‘little corner’ of paradise’. 

Mrs Paolo says ‘the Malampa Office of the Department of Tourism is extremely grateful for the ongoing government support and although our budget is proportionately small, we believe that together we do a great deal to support the growth of the rural economy and people here in this province.  Marketing to large, short-haul markets are important but so is finding your niche and doing it well. We acknowledge the ongoing support from the Vanuatu Tourism Office and would encourage their further assistance by sharing their budget with the rural regions. We must work together collaboratively and carry out our relative roles; the Department of Tourism assisting with regional product development and product marketing and the VTO with international destination marketing as well as market identification and placement. The quality of the Melanesian-style bungalows is high and the level of hospitality is sure to please. ‘With Air Vanuatu flights daily to Malekula, and twice weekly to Ambrym from Vila and Santo it is so easy’. She says.

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