The winners of the Vanuatu Bred Bank Tourism Awards for Excellence of 2017 to 2018 have been announced.
This significant event which runs every two years is referred to as Vanuatu's tourism red carpet event. It showcases the best of Vanuatu's products, services and employees in the tourism industry.
The 2017 to 2018 event finally came to an end last Saturday with the announcement of the winners at the Convention Center in Port Vila, after months of interviews by international judges and first-hand experiences with product-entries and later going through a challenge to decide which is the best of each 15 categories.
The winners of each accommodation categories are:
Best Island Style-Chez Maureen Bungalows from Gaua
Mid Range Accommodation-Fatumaru Lodge
Best Boutique-Whitegrass Ocean Resort and Spa
Hotel/Resort-Warwick Le Lagoon Vanuatu
Best Luxury- Tamanu on the Beach Resort and Spa.
Here are the tour categories and winners:
Traditional Kastom-Leweton Cultural Experience on Santo,
Adventure Activity-Tropic Thunder Jet Vanuatu
Ocean Experience- Big Blue Vanuatu
Recreational/Soft Adventure- Vanuatu Helicopters.
Winners of each Individual Categories:
Customer Service (Isabelle Atuary, World Car Rental
Behind the Scene (Gladis Aru, Francesca's Beach Club)
Tour Guide (Queentin Daniel ,Flower Garden Water Music)
Leadership in Handicraft (Trudy Kolotiti, TVET Handicraft Coach)
Ambassador Transport (Roger Roy from Efate)
Youth in Tourism (Joan Pama from Santo)
The winners of the three new tourism awards that were created by the Ministry of Tourism were also announced.
The Agritourism Award, Minister of Tourism Sustainability Business Award and Father Luke Dini Ecotourism Individual Award were initiated to link other sectors that are playing vital role to meet tourism demands.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Trades and Industry , Bob Loughman, highlighted the importance of engaging in sustainable tourism to the people, culture and environment.
"The Ministry of Tourism has introduced the Minister of Tourism Sustainability Award because sustainable development is now key for any development in Vanuatu.
"Sustainable tourism takes account of its current and future economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts by balancing the needs of visitors, the industry and communities", he said.
Centrally located on the sea wall in Port Vila, Big Blue was recognized for its valuable contribution of combating ocean trash. Its divers are connected to the ocean and are champions in the fight to reduce ocean littering.
They collected 12 tonnes of marine debris such as metal, electronics, batteries and wood away from the Sea Front for two months after cyclone Pam. They also helped the Department of Fisheries to collect crown of thorns that are destroying reefs across Vanuatu.
The Owner of EcoTours Pascal Guillet who is also a Industry Tour Expert with the Vanuatu Skills Partnership or TVET was awarded the Father Luke Dini Ecotourism Individual Award, for his contribution to attract tourists to Vanuatu
Guillet has been facilitating tour guide training across Vanuatu.
He shows local operators how to create products from their resources that are natural and be able to make them accessible to tourists.
Guillet will be attending an international conference as part of the award. The award is dedicated to honoring the legacy of Father Luke Dini as a tourism icon in Vanuatu.
The AgriTourism Award was given to a female farmer from east Santo for supplying fresh produce consistently to the main market to meet demands in hotels and restaurants.
Bred Bank Vanuatu was applauded for being the major sponsor of the event, including other sponsors. The award ceremony ended with a Gala Dinner at Warwick Le Lagon.