VANUATU ISLANDS FORM LOCAL TOURISM ASSOCIATION

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Organization to represent each islands’ interest, needs

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 15, 2011) - Tourism operators across north Efate’s offshore islands have successfully formed a local tourism association to represent their islands’ industry interests and needs.

The Nguna Pele Emau Tourism Association has elected its executive with a good mix of experienced and new tourism operators representing each island.

The Association was developed as part of a recent SHEFA tourism development workshop on Nguna and Pele, which was organized in conjunction with an Australian volunteer with the Nguna-Pele Marine Protection Area and the MPA Chairman Tatupe Joesph.

The SHEFA Tourism Development office spent three days talking with and exploring the tourism opportunities across these islands in a workshop designed to raise awareness in the community about the tourism industry, and to provide business development coaching to existing tourism operators.

As the community plays an important role in the development of tourism product, the initial session provided information to the community about the importance of working together and realising the greater community economic and cultural benefits that tourism can bring to their islands.

"In Vanuatu the number of tourists that visit the islands outside of Efate, Santo and Tanna could be increased to provide tourists exposure to our unique culture and customs as well as providing much needed income for ni-Vanuatu tourism operators, and their communities.

"The islands of Nguna, Pele and Emau are in a prime position to take advantage of this as the islands are all close to Port Vila and there is easy access for both international and domestic tourists from Port Vila" said Max Aru, SHEFA Tourism Development Officer.

While there are some very good existing tourism operators across these islands, the challenge for the Tourism Association is to work together to increase the standard of tourism product and to take advantage of marketing opportunities in the future. It is anticipated that the Nguna Pele Emau Tourism Association, through its Executive will work with the SHEFA Tourism Development Office to achieve this objective.

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