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.
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