Vanuatu’s Domestic Tourism Push

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By June Ramli

Vanuatu, June 24: During my recent fact-finding trip to Vanuatu, I was delighted to discover that the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) is now actively promoting domestic tourism, shifting focus from heavy reliance on international tourists.
This strategic shift came about during the COVID-19 lockdown when the country had to rely on its own people for tourism.
Vanuatu boasts more than 83 stunning islands, some of which can rival renowned destinations like Bora Bora in Tahiti.
However, what sets these islands apart is their remote and challenging accessibility due to the rough terrain.
Nevertheless, for the locals accustomed to navigating these terrains, it poses no hindrance.
During my stay, I had the opportunity to visit the local travel expo called Me, Tomoro Vanuatu.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a significant number of local visitors participating in the activities offered, although they did not necessarily visit the travel booths.
I learned from the locals that unemployment is prevalent in Vanuatu, as the government does not provide unemployment benefits. As a result, many individuals rely on support from their extended families for daily needs.
Travel between the islands, particularly from the main island of Port Vila, can be done either by air with Air Vanuatu or by ferries. Ferries are a more affordable option but can be time-consuming, sometimes taking days to reach the desired destination.
This reminded me of my experiences in Tahiti, where ferries and flights by Air Tahiti connect the islands of French Polynesia. During my time in Vanuatu, I discovered that the most popular islands to visit are Tanna and Santo, as they offer more developed infrastructure and modern amenities compared to other islands.
Air Vanuatu also provides discounted flight tickets to the other 83 islands within the country for those flying in.
Attending the travel expo in Vanuatu brought back memories of my days as a staff writer covering the travel beat at the Matta travel expo in Malaysia.
Although the expo organized by the VTO may not have been as grand as the ones I attended in Malaysia, it is steadily making progress, and I hope to see further improvements in the future.
If you’re curious to learn more about this travel expo, I encourage you to visit.
Aside from discovering your next holiday destination, you can also purchase locally handmade handicrafts at affordable prices. In short, a visit to the expo is well worth it and promises an enjoyable experience.

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