Tourism Destination SANMA

Participants at the Destination SANMA meeting in Luganville.

The Department of Tourism together with the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) hosted the ‘Destination SANMA’ meeting in Luganville earlier this week with over 60 tourism industry members to discuss future opportunities and challenges facing the industry.

The Destination SANMA’ meeting builds on from previous consultation workshops that have been held over the last six months as part of the development of the SANMA Sustainable Tourism Plan.

These consultation workshops provide a chance for open dialogue between the government and the private sector about the issues facing tourism in the province and how best to rectify them through a detailed and comprehensive tourism plan.

Presentations were made about the new SANMA Sustainable Tourism Plan and its links to the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VSTP 2019-2030) and the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP 2016-2030, People’s Plan). The NSDP forms the basis of the sector policy, while the VSTP provides the framework for tourism to meet our NSDP Goals, calling for an economically viable, socially inclusive and environmentally responsible tourism industry. The VSTP goals were developed from the Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria for sustainable destinations to ensure Vanuatu is keeping up with global sustainability standards.

The Director of Tourism Mr Jerry Spooner stated: “The development of the provincial tourism plans allows for the tourism sector policy to be decentralised, ensuring that every province has ownership of a living document to support us towards achieving our NSDP targets and VSTP goals. Starting with SANMA, the Department of Tourism aims to enable each of the Provinces to map out their own paths to responsible and sustainable tourism development, while managing the future expansion of tourism across Vanuatu. We are grateful for the funding support from the New Zealand Government to kick start our first plan, once we have piloted the SANMA Sustainable Tourism Plan we will look to the other provinces to take up the challenge”.

Other topics were also discussed such as: the proposed amendments to the VTO Act and the Tourism Marketing Development Fund and updates from Air Vanuatu, Airports Vanuatu Limited, the cruise sector and the Labour Commission. A wide range of issues were covered including the impacts of the coronavirus, provincial representation on national governing tourism boards, accommodation booking platform AirBNB, preparations to counter stay-at-home marketing campaigns in Australia post the recent bushfires, aviation connectivity from new ports, flight schedules and the announcement that Santo is to become an air gateway to northern Vanuatu.

Mr Spooner said he was very encouraged by the turnout of the ‘SANMA Destination’ meeting and the productive discussions that were held, “I feel this is a very good sign demonstrating the coordinated approach that the SANMA tourism industry is taking and I applaud them for this”.

Stakeholders who feel they have useful information and contributions to make, are asked to contact the Sanma Sustainable Tourism Plan Project Leader, Ms Norah Rihai at nrihai@vanuatu.gov.vu.

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