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
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
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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