“It is estimated that the tourism sector alone contributes approximately 65% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“If this is correct then we must also recognise and appreciate the services provided by transport operators to the tourism industry.
“Our transport operators are the first to welcome the tourists on arrival and the last to farewell them at the airport or at the wharf.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Public Land Transport Authority Reginald Tabi made the statement when he opened the first accredited training for drivers attending the Tourism Ambassador Programme at Vanuatu Institute of Technology last Friday.
While drivers have attended a pilot training programme under the same Tourism Ambassador Programme in the past, they were not accredited.
Current Training Coordinator, Nadia Ganegai, says the objective of this first programme is to train the drivers in customer service to achieve Tourism Transport Standard — how to care for tourists. “The drivers will be awarded with their Tourism Permit,” she said.
Drivers who do not carry a Tourism Permit to transport tourists at the Airport or Wharf, won’t be allowed to take part in the service provider programme.
The Vanuatu Strategic Tourism Action Plan which is funded by NZaid and WTO Enhanced Integrated Framework through the Department of Tourism; consists of Transport, Mama’s Market and the Sea Front Beautification Project.
Both the CEO and Coordinator say all drivers undergoing training must pass the course to carry a Tourism Permit.