Richard Butler | Exclusive Report by DAILY POST VU | SEPT 16TH, 2023
The Department of Tourism (DOT), through the Vanuatu Ministry of Trade and Commerce (MTC) and the New Zealand Government through the New Zealand High Commission (NZHC), signed a three-year Grant Funding Agreement (GFA) in August at the MTC’s headquarter in Port Vila.
Vanuatu, through its bilateral arrangements with the Government of New Zealand, continues to progress forward on the third phase of the Tourism Support Program from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade.
The total budget support is estimated at NZD$1,960,000 targeting key programs and activities planned for the recovery of the tourism sector.
The budget was appropriated in April 2023 during the last Parliament session, therefore paving way for the preparation of the funding agreement and the release of the funding support.
The funding agreement is set to commence in 2023 until 2026 and tailored to support various tourism activities identified under the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Strategy (VSTS) 2020-2025 led by the Department of Tourism, as priorities guided by the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VSTP) 2019- 2030.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Vanuatu, we are honored to finalise and sign off on the funding agreement to allow our Ministry to deliver on several priorities activities in tourism and trade.
“It’s crucial, post-covid and post-TC Judy and TC Kevin, that we address our economic recovery and the additional funding support is much needed and timely to support the recovery priorities activities of the Tourism sector,” says Mr. Jimmy Rantes, Director General of the MTC.
Key priorities identified under the new funding agreement include the tourism ready program, review of the aviation access strategy 2023-2028, the provision in increasing better aviation and cruise connectivity, sports tourism, cultural and Arts tourism, eco-tourism activities, tourism standards and certification program reviews and most importantly, address the high-value/low impact tourism initiatives.
“Vanuatu has so much to offer tourists, and tourism has an important place in Vanuatu’s economy and economic development. Aotearoa New Zealand is therefore pleased to be able to provide ongoing support to Vanuatu’s tourism bodies to help sustainably grown this sector,” says New Zealand High Commissioner Nicci Simmonds.”
Director of the Department of Tourism (DoT) Paul Pio conveyed to the New Zealand Government for the additional funding support, as a continuity of the Vanuatu Tourism Assistance Program (VTAP), which ended in 2022.
“We have been re-assessing our tourism focus to address the fast recovery of the sector, which is estimated to meet the pre-covid levels by 2025-2026,” he says.
“Our ongoing work around tourism product development support remain consistent, however, Vanuatu needs new investments, therefore, our investment unit has been working with the Vanuatu Foreign Investment Agencies (VFIPA) and other relevant stakeholders to center the investment priorities, taking in to consideration our climate resilience framework as well as other ongoing challenges. One of these challenges include labour shortages and tourism standards certification and compliance.
“We look forward to utilising the funding support to achieve the greater outcomes for our sector and support the economic recovery of the country.”
The New Zealand Government has committed to a similar grant funding support with two other agencies of the MTC, including the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VT70 million) and the Department of Industry (VT40 million).