A PENAMA Tourism Officer has dismissed concerns by an Ambaen Chief who says a custom ritual must be performed at the Manaro Lake on Ambae, before tourists can be permitted to visit the volcano.

Chief Vire Naliu has appealed to tourist operators to stop sending tourists to Manaro and called for a temporary ban until a custom ceremony is performed.

The debate that a custom ritual on Manaro can lower and put to rest the recent activities has been questioned, because many custom ceremonies have been performed but the volcano remains active.

PENAMA Tourism Officer, Hollingsworth Garae, does not believe that cultural rituals can put the activities to rest.

“If my thoughts were wrong, then the urgency for cultural rituals, without further delay, should’ve brought relief to the people in West and South Ambae,” he said.

“I heard that many custom ceremonies have taken place at Manaro in the past, maybe made by the same people, but Lombenben is still active.

“My question is why are the spirits still unhappy? Can culture explain to volcanologists and other researchers, what is still not right with nature?”

He said there are hundreds and thousands of tourists and Film Crews around the world who are interested in watching and or researching some of the dangerous volcanoes in the world, and Manaro, which is listed as the fifth most dangerous volcanoes in the world is one of them.

He noted that dangerous volcanoes are not only an attraction but also generate revenue and employment opportunities.

The Tourism officer further questioned the lengthy time frame by the chief to perform the custom ceremony, saying he hopes this can save the people on South and West Ambae who are currently suffering from the ash fall.

He said PENAMA Province need tourists just like any other province to generate income and revenue for the people, adding that there are people who are risk-takers and enjoy an adventurous tour, such as visiting an active volcano.

Mr. Garae refers to this as Extreme Tourism, saying at any Alert Levels, there are always advisory notices issued and limits imposed on tours.

“Volcanoes are fire breathing, earth-shaking ‘creatures’ which produce lightning and thunder, and have the power to turn day into night.

“It is little wonder that ritual and volcanism go hand in hand. When a volcano becomes active, it will remain active until such time that nature or God Almighty decides to make it dormant or extinct. While God gives us this active volcano, let us enjoy its aesthetic qualities, not to forget its economic benefits.

“Many geologists and volcanologists possess a wealth of information on how volcanoes work and many doubt that a cultural ritual can change the course of nature, simply because there are too many factors to quantify.”

Mr. Garae said the cultural ritual attachment can become confusing and can modify a population’s vulnerability because it evolves risk scenario to see how cultures can react to a hazard currently and into the future.

“Volcanoes not only produce various hazards, but eruptions can last days to years,” he continued.

The PENAMA Tourism Office urged the Chief not to confuse people but understand the information provided by seismologists and volcanologists in the advanced world because it will provide facts and further recommendations on how to use this knowledge for risks mitigation.

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