Increasing the capacity of the handicraft sector to meet the growing demands of tourists is the aim of the Handicraft Sector Action Plan that was launched yesterday.
The 4-year Action Plan of the Handicraft Business Development Program focuses on encouraging the production and sell of more ‘made in Vanuatu’ products as souvenirs and gifts in the tourism market.
The handicraft sector has now become an important contributor to the economy, employing producers that are preserving cultural heritage while generating income.
The tourism industry provides market for the products thus, partnerships that link tourism demands to handicraft supply is essential.
Even though visitors contribute Vt1.3billion annually to the handicraft sector, 90% or most of the products sold to tourists are imported, said the Handicraft Officer at the Department of Industry, Ian Baniuri.
For tourism to be sustainable, this has to change, he stressed.
“Traditional handicraft skills in Vanuatu varies within islands,” he said.
“What producers need to understand is the need of product change in the evolving tourism market.
“Part of the action plan is encouraging an inclusive handicraft business. Not only women are handicraft producers but people with disabilities too have skills.”
The Handicraft Sector Action Plan also targets strengthening handicraft product supply chain and enhancing competitive marketing.
It was initiated following a report on the valuable contributions of the handcraft sector to communities, its exiting challenges and future trend.
The development of the Handicraft Sector Action Plan was supported by the Australian Government funded Vanuatu Skills Partnership Program and the government of New Zealand, through the Vanuatu Strategic Tourism Action Plan (VSTAP).