Government determined to enhance tourism growth: Minister Napat

Dignitaries at the groundbreaking ceremony. Minister Jotham Napat is standing front, 6th from the left.

By Jonas Cullwick

The Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat, says this government is determined to enhance tourism growth by allowing Vanuatu to look beyond its traditional markets and target long haul markets such as the southeast coast of Asia and the west coast of the United States of America.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for the extension of Port Vila’s Bauerfield Airport recently, Mr. Napat repeated his statement made at the same room last year following the conclusion of the Bauerfield airport runway repairs that the present Bauerfield Airport has reached stagnancy with respect to visitors’ arrivals from traditional markets.

“While it is promising to learn from the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) and our national airline Air Vanuatu recently that airlines are currently reporting some of the best months on record with forward bookings also look positive.”

He said that In order to achieve these and also stimulate tourism growth, and throughout the rest of the country, the government had decided to invest in airport infrastructure projects which address capacity constraints at our airports and remove restrictions on aircraft operations which currently exist due to the physical characteristics of our airports.

“The Council of Ministers on the 21st of April, 2016 decided that Bauerfield was to be upgraded to Code E long haul requirements. Completion of this project will facilitate Bauerfield’s runway and associated pavement infrastructure with capability of accommodating Code E long haul aircraft flights, with reference aircraft targeted being Boeing 787 and Airbus A330.

“These effectively will remove the restrictions we currently have in accessing long haul markets directly from our main gateway airport and I look forward to the day when we can witness the long haul flights operating into Bauerfield.”

The Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities said the groundbreaking ceremony marked another critical milestone for this particular project “as we continue to work towards fully reconstructing Vanuatu’s main gateway airport infrastructure project to cater for our long term aspirations and needs.”

On behalf of the government, he thanked the contractors CCECC and their joint venture partner Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction for their preparatory works so far and now granted possession of the site so that they can commence the construction.

“And thank you Airports Vanuatu Limited and Vanuatu Project Management Unit for facilitating the preliminary phases of the project and ensuring that our main gateway airport, continues to remain safe and operational given the challenges we have had to overcome over the past two years.

“Government again continues to acknowledge the funding facility under the Vanuatu Aviation Infrastructure Project (VAIP) of which over $US47 million (Vt6 billion) has been awarded to CCECC and its joint venture partner specifically for the construction of Bauerfield International Airport.”

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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