March 2006

The Travel Bug - Issue 13

Good Tips for Yachties Visiting Vanuatu

Vanuatu is helping cruising yachtsmen get the most from a visit to the nation’s eighty-three scattered islands through a new website that encourages mingling with the local people and embracing their unique customs and cultures. The site also gives tips on Vanuatu’s village land and reef ownership system that, unlike most places in the western world, does not end at high-water mark but extends over reefs for as far as they can be seen. And importantly so as not to cause offence, it assists with simple advice on how to recognise taboos used to protect and sustain agricultural and marine resources – generally a type of local leaf attached to a pole.

The website, that was developed with the assistance of UNESCO, also says that the friendly Vanuatu locals will happily cooperate with visiting yachties, including acting as guides to show them their village and any unique natural attractions, but that permission to venture inland or across reefs should first be sought from the local Chief, a sign of respect for local authority. "The general rule of thumb is that if you can see a reef then it is under Custom Marine Tenure (CMT) and recognised by the Constitution," the website says. "Access to these reefs is exclusively restricted to clan members who have tenure over the reefs, unless permission is given to others by the local Chief. "Only resources found in the deep untenured waters, such as tuna and other pelagic fish are openly accessible to cruising yachts."

The website also says any request from custom landowners for a fee to fish their reefs or go onto their lands should not be seen as an attempt to take advantage of visitors, but a means of protecting land and reef tenure. Similarly, periodic fishing restriction taboos are placed over some reefs that may not be accessed or fished to enable resources to rebuild, and taboos may also be placed over particular types of fishing gear such as spearguns. The website details how these taboos can be easily recognised. Cruising yachtsmen planning a visit to Vanuatu can access the Custom Marine Tenure website through www.unesco.org/csi/pub/papers3/van.htm or http://vanuatuculture.org/projects/230206_yachtieguide.shtml (Source: David Ellis Associates 28/02/2006)

The Vanuatu-Hotels.vu Site

Vanuatu-hotels.vu has been developed by John and Silvana Nicholls of Vanuatu Standby Accommodation acting as the local partner of WHL in securing accommodation product in Vanuatu and the day to day management of the site. As part of the program to assist small (i.e. the NiVanuatu owned and operated bungalows) and medium size accommodation operations. John and Silvana conduct a free advisory service to assist these local operators in developing their business.

As the General Manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office, Linda Kalpoi commented: "The Vanuatu Tourism Office is delighted and welcomes the launch of Vanuatu-Hotels.vu as another window of promoting the beautiful Vanuatu Islands to the world. We would like to congratulate IFC and The World Bank for this great initiative that will expose the locally owned bungalows along with hotels and resorts in Vanuatu through the internet, the greatest medium for information and business."

John Nicholls of Vanuatu Hotels reports: "I first heard of the IFC initiative three years ago and was fascinated by their operating model of global assistance with local management, it made so much sense! How can an on-line booking business service the innumerable questions from travellers wanting to visit such a diverse country as Vanuatu when answers are generated from a database in London or Montreal? Only a local operator living in the destination with 'real time' information can provide this. The other advantage is that a local operator cares about their destination. A Worldhotel-link.com core objective which we enthusiastically support is their initiative in Sustainable Tourism.

As too many tourism destinations around the world are now experiencing environmental problems, we must all get involved to safeguard our beautiful country. WHL sophisticated 'back of house' and marketing support is exemplary and with their assistance we hope to have a positive impact on tourism to Vanuatu, especially for the business and independent traveller." (Source: Vanuatu Hotels Media Release 01/03/2006)

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