An investor has praised the Department of Tourism and staff for their efforts and approach with the Vanuatu Tourism Accreditation Info Pack (2016), but criticized the approach taken by the Department of Industries on the proposed Agri-Services Promotions and Regulations Authority (APRA) Act and the much publicised and now gazetted Industrial Development Act No. 19 of 2014.

Investor John Fordham said some Government Authorities are seemingly bent on destroying the backbone of Vanuatu’s “Small Business”, be it intentional or not.

“Business and investor confidence is being dealt some big blows due to some Government department’s introduction and proposals of new legislation,” said Fordham, referring to: (1) The Vanuatu Tourism Accreditation Info Pack (2016) (2)The Industrial Development Act; and (3)The Agri-Services Promotions and Regulations Authority Act.

“Some of the legislation discloses that the relevant Departments have no idea about business and its driving forces.

“It would also appear that there is no intention for these Government Departments to work with the businesses to achieve a common goal for the good of the country and its future, but instead take an approach to achieve their own goals with no regard for the negative impact that this legislation will cause in the Vanuatu economy.

“I would like to acknowledge and commend the efforts of Director of Tourism George Borugu, Department of Tourism’s Principal Accreditation Officer Jerry Spooner and all others involved, for the presentation of the proposed “Vanuatu Tourism Accreditation”.

“It is presented well and there is inferred recognition that they are willing to listen to investors and small operators involved in the tourism industry.

“You have clearly defined each class and sector of the tourism industry and clearly and simply outlined what is expected of each operator and tourism process and the process they need to follow.

“This presentation stands out as a professional approach to how any legislation or changes to how an industry is expected to perform.

“There is no big stick approach threatening jail sentences and fines as the other two documents have stated.”

Investor Fordham however, pointed out that the content of the document outlining what is expected of the Tourism Industry businesses in each category will be difficult for some operators to comply with and perhaps seen as unreasonable by the industry as a whole.

“But you have provided a ‘starting block’ for discussion among the stakeholders which should enable the Tourism Industry to move forward together. Well done!” he said.

“This is more than I can say for the proposed Agri-Services Promotions and Regulations Authority Act and the gazetted Industrial Development Act No. 19 of 2004.

“When one reads this legislation, you could be forgiven for thinking that Vanuatu has now become a ‘dictatorship’.

“There are no other words for it.”

The approach by the Vanuatu Tourism Accreditation Authorities shows where each sector (23 in all) of the tourism sector is defined and listed in a table that also shows exactly, the “terms and conditions” that each sector has to adhere to.

Fordham says there are nine different contacts listed in the document that teach sector operator can contact for assistance.

“There are flow charts to indicate the accreditation process, the steps in having licenses issued and the implementation process,” he continued.

“And above all, there is a 12 month grace period that allows for consultation after the operators are given their terms and conditions.

“The Trades and Industry, under the their new Act can apply up to a Vt1million fine and up to 12 months imprisonment if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions that they are not willing to disclose just yet.

“I would like to suggest that the Trades and Industry acquire a copy of the new Vanuatu Tourism Accreditation Info pack and start all over again (after repealing the current Act).

“If something like this is not done, you will create enemies and not partners, within the ‘Industry Undertakers’.

“And Court cases will be a norm, rather than a rarity.”

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