The Executive Director of the Brussels-based Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), Ratnakar Adhikari, says tourism is immensely important and that it is one sector of the economy that touches almost every aspect of human life.

Speaking at the recent launch of the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project (VTIP) in Port Vila, Adhikari, said globally, the sector represented nearly 10% of the world’s GDP and 30% of global services export.

“It is also a major source of foreign exchange and investment, leading to widespread employment and business opportunities, with this particularly being the case for Vanuatu,” he added.

The EIF ED pointed to a recent research conducted by the EIF with the United Nations World Tourism Organization that has shown that for the least developed countries (LDCs), tourism is a critical tool for growth and development, with more than 80% of LDCs identifying tourism as a priority sector for their development.

He added that despite this clear importance of tourism to least developed countries, less than 0.01% of Global Development Assistance is dedicated to developing tourism in LDCs, and that it is a key rationale for EIF’s ongoing work together with the UN World Tourism Organization.

“I am pleased to say, however, that a lack of resources being dedicated to tourism development is no longer the case in Vanuatu,” he pointed to the VTIP.

“In this project here today, together with the additional support from the Government of New Zealand, we have an extremely strong and well-resourced tourism development initiatives,” Adhikari continued.

He said not only was this project highly important, it also clearly demonstrates the key principals of the Enhanced Integrated Framework, which is a partnership of 51, mostly LDCs, 23 donors such as Australia, EU and Japan, and 8 international agencies, including the World Bank, Several UN agencies, and the World Trade Organization where the EIF’s Secretariat is based.

“The EIF is a catalytic framework seeking not only to support trade based development through our own resources, but more importantly to assist beneficiary countries to effectively access additional resources. The VTIP is a clear case of EIF resources being used in this manner to support a much larger program.

The VTIP is a partnership project with the Government of New Zealand providing just over Vt1 billion and EIF contributing Vt322 million to enhance two areas — the main wharf and the seafront precincts.

“It is our conviction and believe that the project will help create new employment and economic opportunities for ni-Vanuatu, establish links to the rural economy, alleviating poverty and ensuring economic empowerment of women, which will eventually contribute to sustainable development,” he said.

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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