August 2006

The Travel Bug - Issue 18

Vanuatu - the happiest place on earth

A study of 178-countries around the world has decided the Happiest Place on Earth is Vanuatu in the South Pacific. The British think-tank New Economics Foundation based its finding on studies measuring people’s well-being and their impact on the environment, and took into account life satisfaction, life expectancy, and the amount of land required to sustain the population and absorb its energy consumption. The Foundation said its work had addressed the relative success or failure of countries in giving their citizens a good life while respecting the environmental resource limited on which all our lives depend. Island nations generally performed particularly well in the rankings, but Vanuatu with a population of around 200,000 topped them all.

General Manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office, Linda Kalpoi said she wasn’t surprised that Vanuatu would be in the “top ten” of the world’s Happiest Places, but “delightfully surprised” it had topped the list. “People don’t do a lot of worrying here,” Mrs Kalpoi said. “And because we’re generally happy with our lot, we’re not a consumer-driven society. “Life in Vanuatu is more about community values, our families and goodwill within our communities and to visitors to our country.” While Vanuatu topped the study to find “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Australia did not fare well, coming 139th out of 178 countries surveyed… and the United States ranked 150th. For information about holidaying in Vanuatu, see travel agents, phone the Vanuatu Tourism Office in Australia on (02) 9484 5514 or check out www.vanuatutourism.com (Source: David Ellis Associates 13/07/2006)

Air New Zealand adds Vanuatu to its Pacific Island Network

Vanuatu will become the ninth Pacific Island destination for Air New Zealand from 5 August 2006 when, subject to NZ Government approval, the airline enters into a bi-lateral code share agreement with Air Vanuatu. Under the agreement, Air New Zealand will initially operate its code on the three services per week currently operated by Air Vanuatu between Auckland and Port Vila. Then from late October, Air New Zealand will operate an A320 service one day a week and Air Vanuatu will operate two B737 services per week. Air New Zealand will continue to retain its code on the two Air Vanuatu services. Air New Zealand Group General Manager Short Haul Airlines, Norm Thompson said the airline was pleased to be able to add Vanuatu to its portfolio of South Pacific holiday destinations.

"We welcome this relationship with Air Vanuatu and see it as an opportunity to offer our leisure customers an additional choice when planning their tropical island holiday. "Only some three hours from Auckland, Vanuatu is growing in popularity as an island destination and, given our robust South Pacific network, it makes sense for Air New Zealand to commit its own aircraft to operate a service once a week from our next schedule change," said Mr Thompson. Air Vanuatu CEO, Captain Terry Kerr said the airline welcomed Air New Zealand as a partner on the route and added the new service will create more exposure and interest for Vanuatu as a growing destination in New Zealand. "After more than a decade flying the route and promoting the destination along with Vanuatu tourism stakeholders, we believe the support and contribution by Air New Zealand will bring another dimension to the tourism development for Vanuatu," said Mr Kerr. (Source: Air New Zealand Media Release 28/06/2006)

Vanuatu and Espiritu Santo Ocean Swims Prove Popular

The 5th Vanuatu Ocean Swim and the 2nd Espiritu Santo - Aore Swim held on 17th & 20th June respectively with around 200 swimmers, family & friends travelling to Vanuatu for the events. The Vanuatu Ocean Swim, attracted participants from Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji, UK, Canada, USA and Vanuatu and was held in calm conditions around Iririki Island in Port Vila’s picturesque Harbour with the Race starting off Iririki Island Jetty and Finishing at Iririki Island Resort Beach, following a rough diamond shaped course around the island.

The Port Vila event attracted some of the world’s top swimmers including World 200m Freestyle Champion in Montreal last year now residing in New Caledonia, Solene Figues, New Caledonian Champion Benoit Riviere, Australian World Championship Team member, Shelley Clark and fellow top Ocean Swimmers Luanne Rowe, Shane Olliver, Scott Prosser and Peter Thiel. Actual swimmer numbers for the Vanuatu Ocean Swim were slightly down on 2005 with less local resident participants, but the number of family and friends accompanying overseas visitors to the event saw an increase with many staying on for extended holidays around the event to take in the many unique tourism attractions and cultural experiences that Vanuatu has to offer.

After the Vanuatu Ocean Swim a group of 40 swimmers and accompanying family & friends made the trip on Air Vanuatu up to Vanuatu’s ‘Big Island’ of Espiritu Santo for the second running of the Espiritu Santo Aore Swim which crosses the 2.6Km Segond Channel from Unity Park in Luganville to Aore Resort. The Channel can be unpredictable, with South Easterlies blowing up with strong tidal currents and the rough, choppy conditions prevailing on the day, provided a stark contrast to the calm waters of Port Vila and a real Ocean challenge for the 34 Starters.

Besides the swim, the group had a busy time sampling the variety of tourist adventures to be had on Espiritu Santo, from the gourmet delights of Oyster Island, swimming Santo’s famed Blue Holes, to the Millennium Caves and diving the Coolidge. Next year’s dates are Saturday 16th June for the Vanuatu Ocean Swim and 19th June for the Espiritu Santo Aore Swim. See www.pacificswims.com for details soon and www.oceanswims.com for a report on this year’s Vanuatu Swims. (Source: South Pacific Sports Promotions 25/06/2006)

Telecom Vanuatu Round Island Relay Popular with Overseas Runners

This years Telecom Vanuatu Round Island Relay raised the event to another level with the sixteen year old Men’s Record broken by the winning Iupa Club Team made up of runners from Vanuatu’s Southern Island of Tanna. Iupa stopped the clock at 8 Hours 21 Minutes 17 Seconds, 5 minutes under the old mark set in 1990. The Women’s Race was won by Run Sista also from Tanna, in 11 Hours 19 Minutes 30 Seconds. There were also course records set for the Corporate Category by The Melanesian Port Vila in 10 Hours 55 Minutes 29 Seconds, who must be the fittest Hotel employees in Vanuatu, and in the Military Category FANC New Caledonia set a new record of 8 Hours 32 Minutes 01 Second.

A record 8 Teams finished the course in under 9 Hours. The Round Island Relay, started in 1980 to celebrate Vanuatu’s Independence, is a 138Km, 10 Stage Road Relay Race around Efate Island. The stages vary in length and terrain based on landmarks rather than equal distances. The shortest stage is a hilly 11.6 Km and the longest a flat 16 Km. There is a fantastic atmosphere around the island on Race Day with Villages along the route welcoming all the runners, many setting up specially constructed displays, decorations and plenty of String Band music and fun going on, with teams pausing to dance to the music on their way around the island.

The race is also becoming popular with overseas teams and 2006 was a record year in terms of overseas participation with 6 Teams from New Caledonia and 3 from Australia attracting over 200 overseas runners family & friends, many of whom stayed on to sample the great attractions Vanuatu has to offer around Port Vila and the outer islands. The 2007 Telecom Vanuatu Round Island Relay will be held on Saturday 28th July. See www.vanuaturelay.com and www.vanuatutourism.com for more information (Source: South Pacific Sports Promotions 03/08/2006)

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