February 2009

The Travel Bug - Issue 48

Air Travel to Vanuatu 30% Growth

With not so much good news in international travel th ese days, Vanuatu has shown increadibly solid growth in air travel demand. There was a massive 28.9% growth for January 2009, over January 2008. This is on top of a very solid 2008 year-on-year growth figure of 15.4%, and 17.5% the year before. Chief Executive of Airports Vanuatu Limited, Hendry Joewangeh, while very pleased with the results, says it’s difficult to identify the exact cause of this massive counter-cyclical growth.

He says that there are most likely a number of reasons. “These include a large increase in capacity from both Air Vanuatu and Pacific Blue, at a time when travelers in Australia and New Zealand are tightening their belts and cutting back on more expensive long haul travel, in favour of great short haul holiday destinations. Being 2-3 hours from our major markets helps in this regard”.

Airports Vanuatu also confirms that plans are well in place for direct international services between New Caledonia and the second most visited island in Vanuatu after Efate, Tanna – home to the famous Mt Yasur Volcano - and that detailed work is going on in developing a direct air route to Asia. (Source: VTO Island Nius – February 2009)

Vanuatu Volcano Alert for Ambrym Volcanoes

Following recent observation during a field work of the Geohazards mitigation team over Ambrym volcanoes (24th – 31st January), Marum volcano has erupted with thick ash fall and an ash plume height of more than 2 km (estimation). The wind threw the volcanic cloud in the west direction. Geology and Mines could confirm, by OMI SO2 satellite picture, the record of a very active phase one day before the eruption. The alert level of the Marun and Benbow volcano is now at level 2 of the Vanuatu Volcano Alert Level (VVAL). Be advised that any observation should be done in the distance, away from the craters. (Source: VTO Island Nius – February 2009)

"Zorbing" at Devil's Point

Wet n’ Wild’s new product “Zorbing” was launched in late January and is recommended for all ages above 6 years. Guests enjoy a scenic drive from their hotel right up to Devil’s Point Slopes, then they will get ready to experience a fun and unique ride of their lifetime. Imagine rolling down the picturesque Mele hills inside a 2.5 meters giant inflatable Hydro ball, with water added into the balloon to slip and slide in the best waterslide ever!

Zorbing does exactly that adding to variety in our colorful array of tours Vanuatu already has to offer. Tour days are Tuesdays and Fridays with minimum 8 people permitting. Alternative days can be arranged for larger groups. Tour departs every day at 9.30 am. Pre booking is required. Bus picks guests up from hotel front lobby or reception and returns after 3 1 hours of fun fun fun! There are cold drinks available, and please bring along swimmers, towels, sunscreen and insect repellant. (Source: VTO Island Nius – January 2009)

Jupiters Vanuatu Port Vila Casino Opens on 6th February

South Pacific gaming is to reach a new level with the opening of Jupiters Vanuatu casino at the Sebel on Friday February 6th. The glamour of Monte Carlo has been mixed with the excitement of Las Vegas and Macau to create two gaming floors of vibrant opulence. Classic chandeliers will highlight the gold leafed ceiling of the Main Gaming Floor on the lobby level of the Sebel Hotel. Patrons will be seated at the Baccarat, Blackjack and Roulette tables on furniture unsurpassed in any casino in the world. Slots on the two levels of casino gaming, will dazzle local players with state of the art graphics blazing from new machines, many of which have games that have never been played before in any gaming venue in Vanuatu. The casino will also comprise multiple jackpots to satisfy the most discerning player. (Source: VTO Island Nius – January 2009)

Air Vanuatu Announces more Santo and Tanna flights

Air Vanuatu’s new aircraft, an ATR-72 will make more international passengers for Pekoa a reality, Chief Executive Officer Hollingsworth Ala Ngwele has said. The new aircraft, due to arrive mid-2009 will enable more flights from Tanna and Santo to Vila and excitedly, international connections to Nadi (Fiji) and Noumea from Santo and Tanna, via Vila. “We recognise Santo and Tanna are growing markets and are grateful for the marketing assistance of the local tourism associations,” Mr. Ngwele said. “Air Vanuatu selected the ATR-72 with Santo and Tanna in mind – and not just for the domestic market.

The schedule for the new aircraft will be built around international connections from the USA (via Fiji). “There is a strong push for connections from Fiji to Santo, particularly for the diving market,” Mr. Ngwele said. “We aim to have the ATR-72 connect with flights from the USA through to Vila and Santo, but are also looking at connections with Noumea and Honiara.” Mr. Ngwele said Air Vanuatu had already begun discussions with Customs and Immigration to prepare for the connecting flights.

Santo tour operators have welcomed the news. “We’re very excited by the planned new flights and new markets for Santo,” Wrecks to Rainforests tour agent Mayumi Green said. “The additional traffic this will bring is very exciting for Santo and we are grateful for Air Vanuatu’s confidence in our unique destination.” Mr. Ngwele said the domestic market had grown significantly and acknowledged at times it has been difficult to keep up with demand. “Upgrading from the ATR-42 to the 72 will enable an additional 320 passengers a week to fly from Vila to Santo and at least 180 to Tanna. Not to mention the additional freight capacity, which will be welcome news for the business community in Santo.”

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