Mar 19, 2018 Last Updated 3:53 AM, Mar 16, 2018

Vanuatu revival time

Ready for business after repairs

VANUATU is back on line after two major disasters – Category Five Cyclone Pam in 2015 and the closure of the runway at its international airport early this year. Cyclone Pam took out the hugely popular Iririki Island Resort and the Holiday Inn as well as destroying infrastructure and smaller hotels. Coupled with the refusal of Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand to fly into Bauerfield International Airport, Port Vila, due to poor runway conditions, visitor arrivals fell to 80,000 – the lowest level since 2003.

With repairs to Iririki completed and the Holiday Inn Port Vila to come on line this month, Vanuatu Tourism CEO Linda Kalpoi is confident of a dramatic resurgence. “We’re looking at a 10 per cent increase in visitor numbers this year,” Kalpoi said at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange on Australia’s Gold Coast.

“Support for us here at the SPTE has been great – our buyers have been really understanding of the situation and they are enthusiastic about the products we have to offer “This is definitely good news for us.” The Bank South Pacific-sponsored event drew around 60 global buyers and 150 regional sellers over two days at Sea World Resort.

“I’m very confident that our numbers can come back up to 110,000 a year very quickly. We’re working hard with a number of partners and Vanuatu will capitalise on a number of projects around the region.” One of those projects is Fiji Airways’ direct services to Singapore. read more buy your personal copy at



Bank pushes tourism presence

THE growing middle class in China and India means more travellers from those markets over the next five years. It also means possible investment outside those two economic giants in smaller countries, including the smaller Pacific countries which are in desperate need.

The mix of tourism and investment is a marriage made in heaven for travel companies, national economies, investors, entrepreneurs and – of course – banks. Last year the ANZ Bank recognised that potential when it sponsored the South Pacific Tourism Exchange in Melbourne Australia.

At the time the bank pointed to its belief in tourism and its presence in the region as reasons behind its sponsorship. Speaking to Islands Business, ANZ’s Head of Emerging Corporates, Saud Minam, said the bank was committed to expansion throughout the region while providing financial support for communities.

“We recognise the potential tourism has in the Pacific and we want to show that we are part of this region, a major part of this region.” This year, however, the bank has reviewed its marketing strategies and decided not to sponsor the event. Even the much-publicised ANZ one-stop shop Regional Tourism Desk based at its Nadi, Fiji branch has been downgraded.

The void was immediately filled by Bank South Pacific who pumped FJ$55,000 per annum for three years as sponsors of this major regional event. read more buy your personal copy at

Singapore - the new focus

FIJI’S national carrier has embarked on a twice-weekly service to Changi International Airport, Singapore, casting aside New Delhi and Shanghai. The airline’s intention is to use the new destination as a hub from which to link to Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Operating the Airbus A330, Fiji Airways can carry around 400 passengers on the route and is currently running at around 25 per cent capacity with a huge marketing plan in progress. With fierce competition among airline flying out of Singapore, Fiji has recognised the possibility that flights may not be easy to fill immediately.

Finance Minister Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum told local media that the Fiji government would provide certain subsidies to the national carrier. He did not specify the form or duration of the subsidies designed to keep the route viable while Fiji Airways attempted to grow the market. An airline marketing teams was in Singapore before and after the HSBC Sevens leg there to push the brand and Fiji as a destination. The airline was also a major sponsor of the tournament with billboards around the National Stadium advertising cheap fares to Fiji. Manufacturers believe Singapore is the right choice. read more buy your personal copy at

Islands reach out to visitors

WITH a 12 per cent growth in its tourism industry in 2015, Samoa will use its recent Tourism Expo and a national initiative to drive arrivals higher this year. Fresh from the Samoa Tourism Expo, a high-level delegation will attend the South Pacific Tourism Event and the Australian Travel Exchange on the Gold Coast this month. An estimated 59 buyers attended the Samoa event – a record after nine years - from across New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Canada, China, South Korea, Fiji and American Samoa. Tourism Minister, Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell, believes Samoa’s tourism industry has a bright future.

“This year, a record 59 Travel Trade representatives with vested interest in Samoa’s tourism products registered (at the Samoa Tourism Expo),” Lautafi said. His belief stands despite the difficulty Samoa has in accessing visitors from Japan, China and Korea who must travel through Australia, Fiji or New Zealand. While flights are many and affordable, schedules are unkind with travellers arriving around 5am at Faleolo International Airport after more than 24 hours of travel. Sonja Hunter, CEO of the Samoa Tourism Authority, spoke after the 2015 SPTE in Melbourne of the difficulties with connecting flights.

“We can build a better airport and improve our plant and infrastructure but it doesn’t help if we cannot get our tourists to arrive at a reasonable time,” Hunter said. read more buy your personal copy at

ESPIRITU Santo, Vanuatu’s northernmost “big island”, and its people, stand ready to benefit from the glorious treasures with which nature has endowed it, and which the messy administration of a condominial government has preserved largely intact for it to obtain over many decades.

It isn’t exactly Tropical Cyclone Pam which has handed Santo a long haul airfield on a plate. However, the unfortunate event of Vanuatu’s worst cyclone since Uma and independence quickly threw into sharp focus the fact that the country’s main international airport, bringing in the increasingly large number of tourists, is not just a runway.

With the potholed Port Vila airstrip causing flight cancellations and foreign owned and managed resorts closing after Pam for lesser or greater repairs (two major hotels still closed a year later) it became necessary for the national government to seriously consider where tourism in Vanuatu is going. We had had the international disgrace of more than half the cabinet having to go to prison over the issue of bribery.

One of the prizes to be supplied by a fairly new government of just a few years ago was to be a long haul airport planned to be near the capital, Port Vila. That government fairly rushed into dubious foreign deals with people here essentially to try to find broad acres for tobacco growing. read more buy your personal copy at


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