Vanuatu’s reputation as an alternative destination and one of the best Pacific venues for hosting regional and international events must continue to be protected and well-guarded at all times.
The organisation of the ITUGSR 2019 marred that image a bit.
First impressions are absolutely very important, like this one, as you exit from the VIP lounge at the Bauerfield International Airport.
But the fact that Protocol people were very frustrated as they didn’t know who was supposed to arrive and exit via VIP lounge (even at the eleventh hour of this muchpublicised global event) falls completely short of the façade and mirage of our readiness as this impresive airport publicity tries to portray.
It is what happens beind the signage, publicity and promotional material that counts. That’s what really matters.
Even when dignitaries might not say it publicly for diplomatic reasons, they are not oblivious to standard etiquettes of expected protocol.
Impressions are definitely created in their minds about how we do things. And when these impressions are negative, it does not paint too colourful a picture about our abilities and seriousness.
Why? Because they are offered these important courtesies around the world and in other jurisdictions.
In a way, some people simply wasted money painting the glass walls of this arrivals arena at VIP lounge.
One of the dignitaries who had arrived and wasn’t professionally met at the airport caught up with a local friend who drove him to the house of another colleague.
Lucky for him.
When asked about which hotel he was to stay at, he said “I don’t know as I wasn’t informed”.
Not only that, but frustrated top security personnel who were assigned security responsibilities over the event and over key delegates were sent on the day before the event to go looking for a second hand or old siren somewhere to use for escort and other related responsibilities at the event.
They also rushed into the office of one of our major telecommunications companies early this week to try and secure help in order to facilitate their work on security as it was obviously not forthcoming from the main event organiser.
Further more, some participants who had registered got turned away on arival at the venue as they had no name tags.
There’s more to this laughable episode. Obvious question is, why were these very basic events management requirements not professionally prepared well before hand?
Certainly it wasn’t a question of resources. So much for all the media hype in past weeks and this is the kind of logistical support our world delegates get on arrival and after they walk past the airport advert (which no doubt a good number of them might have missed anyway as they were crowded through ‘cattle class route’ with the rest of the normal passengers due to the fact that protocol weren’t aware and undoubtedly the VIP lounge officials might not have known either because there was simply no prior communication on arrivals and departure requirements).
We need to ask ourselves this, when our dignitaries travel to such global events abroad, is this how they are treated? If not, then what’s our problem?
To all our wonderful regional and international delegates who may have experienced the above or much deeper frustrations, what
you may have experienced is very unfortunate and should be considered as a one-off blunder by certain people who were directly involved in the organisation of this honourable global event which our very own Head of Government, out of passion, has invited you to attend.
Vanuatu has offered dozens of world class events hosting experiences before for numerous other delegates from around the Pacific and the world as far as the African continent, Europe, USA, Asia and our neighbouring metropolitan countries. We have hosted events such as the EU/ACP Joint Ministerial Council in 2012.
Vanuatu could have hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2017 had a now-deposed political leader not tampered with it (the National Convention Center was built purposely for that particular CHOGM meeting).
Vanuatu has hosted the Pacific Mini-Games and the Pacific Week of Agriculture in 2017, and the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in 2018 with flying colours.
In 2020 Vanuatu will also be hosting the Pacific Islands Forum Meeting. And many more events will be hosted by Vanuatu.
Hopefully those delegates who did not receive the basic courtesies and support and recognition required of us this time around will overlook this in exchange for the ambience and beauty of the rest of the country and the many other good things that Port Vila and Vanuatu have to offer.