VANUATU ISLANDERS MAKE ECO-TOURISM BID

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By Kathy Simon

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, Nov. 7) – It took years and much convincing to get the village communities of Wintua, Lorlo, Labo and Lawa in South West Bay Malekula in Vanuatu to collectively present to the Government and private sector representatives on October 27, the Fire Beach Tour, a potential tourist site at Labo village, South West Bay, Malekula, - thanks to the visions of one Johnna Lau.

[PIR editor’s note: Malekula island is located northwest of the capital city of Port Vila.]

The official launching of the Fire Beach Tour was made by Sato Kilman, then acting prime minister and minister of foreign affairs. The launching was witnessed by the Member of Parliament for the particular region, Esmon Sai, acting director of national tourism development officer (NTDO) Avio Roberts, marketing officer of the Vanuatu Tourism Office Patrick Vurobaravu, Chairman of Vanuatu Island Bungalows association Olivier Fidelio and representatives of the Malampa province and other guests.

[PIR editor’s note: Malampa province is located in the central region of Vanuatu comprising of Malekula and 17 other islands.]

Fire Beach Tour in brief comprises a colorful presentation of the flora and fauna, the marine environment, the colorful cultural performances that culminate in island feast-type demonstrations of the local dishes that were prepared and served by the friendly hosts.

"Fire Beach is a classical example of the local community aspiration to venture into eco-tourism, to promote the environment and cultural resources in a sustainable manner, and to present these tourism resources to the visitors in return for a minimal fee", stated the acting director of national tourism development office.

The development of Fire Beach to date, has been made successful purely by the community and supported financially by their member of parliament Esmon Sai. In officially launching the Fire beach community project, Kilman encouraged the community to be "vigilant in ensuring that all times, the community cooperates and maintains togetherness in order to achieve the fundamental objectives behind the project".

South West Bay for too long has been plagued by its inaccessibility. The South West Bay airstrip is often closed in bad weather. There are no visible roads around the area other than bush tracks.

Despite the difficult access, the area is popular for its cultural heritage. Remnants of "kastom villages" resemble castles of the Viking era in medieval Europe. Colorful traditional performances, chiefly ranking and pig killing, are the usual norms of the modern day society of South West Bay.

Fire Beach is another testimony to the people of South West Bay area to entice the government, private sector tourism operators and potential travelers to consider South West Bay as the new tourism destination.

November 9, 2005

Port Vila Presse: http://www.news.vu/en/

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