Eco-Tourism Australia Team Visits Vanuatu To Help Improve Industry

Local accreditation body working to boost sustainability of tourism

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 22, 2016) – “We want to develop our tourism in such a way that we have quality products to present to our visitors while we preserve our environment and heritage for our future generations as well.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Tourism, Joe Natuman, made the statement to welcome the arrival of the Eco Tourism Australia Team, namely Chief Executive Officer, Rod Hillman and Leonie Bowles and Claire Ellis this week.

They are here to work with the Vanuatu Tourism Accreditation Team, to review and consult with stakeholders in developing a sustainable implementation plan for the Tourism Accreditation Programme, prior to full enforcement for the next 4 – 5 years. Legislative changes will need to happen from this exercise.

The Eco Tourism Australia CEO confirmed being impressed with what Vanuatu has developed and implemented considering the limited resources available and that, PNG and the Solomon Islands have indicated their interest to learn from Vanuatu’s experience in being the leader with its own Tourism Accreditation Programme.

The Eco Tourism Australia CEO said, “We are very proud to be here, to work with the Department of Tourism and the Ministry to develop this important programme”.

Director George Borugu also gave a brief history behind the challenges faced, but confirmed that the good news is the Private Sector has bought into the initiative, and has been very much involved through numerous consultations “to allow us to come up with this programme”.

It is a joint effort with key stakeholders including Department of Customs and Inland Revenue, State Law Office and other Government line agencies that shows the spirit of partnership between the Government and the Private Sector.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism is pleased to learn that Vanuatu is the first Melanesian country to have, at a regional level, developed its own such programme that is working.

And that having also a reputable team like Eco Tourism Australia show interest in assisting Vanuatu through the help of the New Zealand Government, to strengthen the programme for the benefit of the tourism industry as a whole.

The Accreditation Team along with the Private Sector have welcomed the arrival of the Eco Tourism Australia team, said the Principal Accreditation Officer, Jerry Spooner. But now, it is going to be a busy next couple of months.

He also said all this is happening now through support from various partners including particularly the Southern Cross University Team [ACIAR Project] – linking Vanuatu through since last year to work closely with the Eco Tourism Australia Team.

“They have over 25 years of experience that we can take advantage of and but our focus is to also ensure whatever plans we come up with going forward has to fit the context of Vanuatu – in order for this to be a sustainable programme,” the Principal Accreditation Officer concluded.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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