Vanuatu

Environment:

Vanuatu is a group of more than 80 islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to Australia. They are mostly mountainous islands of volcanic origin, with narrow coastal plains. The highest point is Mount Tabwemasana at 1,879 meters (6,165 feet). Vanuatu lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are known to occur.

Major environmental issues include potable water and deforestation. Most of the population does not have access to a reliable supply of potable water. Environmental corruption has been identified as a particular concern in Vanuatu. The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Under the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Department of Environment and Conservation (Environment Vanuatu) is primarily concerned with biodiversity issues. The Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department maintains a website for the National Advisory Board on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Local environmental NGO Wantok Environment Centre coordinates the Vanuatu Protected Areas Initiative (VPAI). The main projects of VPAI are the Loru Rainforest Protected Area and Loru Environment Centre. Other protected areas include Lake Letas and forest reserves on Lo and Tegua islands. There are a number of marine protected areas, including the major Nguna-Pele Marine Protected Area.

Global Vision International offers volunteer opportunities working with seaturtle conservation. Vanuatu Ecotours and Wrecks to Rainforest are local adventure travel tour operators. The Malampa Tourism Office and Lamap Ecotourism Committee are developing a Malekula Hiking Trail System on the island of Malakula. Australia based Trek Vanuatu offers guided volcano and rainforest treks. Edge Vanuatu leads rappelling trips to Mele Cascades waterfall. Vanuatu Jungle Zipline promises six ziplines and two suspension bridges. Horseback riding is available from Club Hippique and Hippo-Campus Sea Horse Ranch.

Island Time Kayaking and Kayaking Vanuatu offer both kayak tours and rentals. Vanuatu Kite And Surfing School organizes trips and equipment, including stand up paddleboards. Wreck diving the protected SS President Coolidge is popular. Allan Power Dive Tours and Aquamarine Santo specialize in diving this wreck. Other dive operators include Big Blue Vanuatu and Devil’s Point Dive.

Culture:

Ni-Vanuatu refers to Melanesian people of Vanuatu, originally speaking Austronesian languages. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to name some of the islands in the early 17th century. In the late 18th century, Captain Cook named the islands the New Hebrides. Due to heavy French settlement, the New Hebrides came to be administered as a joint British-French Condominium through WWII. Issues with the European concept of private land ownership during the 1960s lead to the formation of political parties in the 1970s, and finally independence in 1980. Vanuatu was formed without a military, and so is listed among countries without armed forces. In 2006, the people of Vanuatu were ranked number one by the Happy Planet Index, and hence are often referred to as the “happiest people in the world”. Today, Ni-Vanuatu speak Bislama, a kind or pidgin or creole, using English vocabulary with Oceanic grammar.

In 2008, three sites associated with Roy Mata, on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok, were inscribed into World Heritage as Chief Roi Mata’s Domain. Previously, 5 other sites had been submitted to Tentative Lists of World Heritage, including Lake Letas, the Nowon and Votwos of Ureparapara, the President Coolidge, Vatthe Conservation Area, and the spirit caves known as “Yalo, Apialo and the sacred geography of Northwest Malakula”. Vanuatu Cultural Centre serves as national library, and is a member of ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property). Wan Smolbag Theatre is a celebrated “development theater” company in Port Vila. The ancient Naghol land diving ritual of Pentecost Island (the precursor of bungee jumping) was once an annual event, but is now practiced more frequently for the benefit of tourism. Fest Napuan is a week long, contemporary music festival held every year in the capital city, Port Vila. Traditional Pacific kava culture still plays an important role in Vanuatu, but has lead to the local production of a contemporary “kava cola” product, called Lava Cola.

Tourism accounts for 40 percent of Vanuatu gross domestic product (GDP), and 2012 was a record year for tourism – with the help of Technical and Vocational Education and Training provided by the Australian government AusAID, and others like New Zealand’s Volunteer Service Abroad. In addition to Vanuatu Tourism (vanuatu.travel), there are local authorities, such as Espiritu Santo Tourism Association and Malampa Travel. Volunteer Vanuatu organizes volunteer opportunities.

The Vanuatu Hotels and Resorts Association website lists member links. Interesting accommodation options include Friendly Bungalows, Havannah Eco Lodge, Sarangkita, Tanna Lava View Bungalows, The Havannah, and Travellers Budget Motel. Resort experiences include Bokissa Private Island Resort, Erakor Island Resort, Hideaway Island Resort, Iririki Island Resort, Oyster Island Resort, Ratua Private Island, Tranquillity Dive Resort, and White Grass Ocean Resort.

One good way to visit Vanuatu is by tall ship, such as the Soren Larsen. Otherwise, Air Vanuatu is the international airline. Domestic air charters are available from Air Taxi Vanuatu, Unity Airlines, Vanuatu Helicopters, and Vanuatu Seaplanes.

References:

  • Beyond Pro-Poor Tourism:(Re) Interpreting Tourism-Based Approaches to Poverty Alleviation in Vanuatu by AM Trau, 2012
  • Climate change adaptation in the Pacific Island tourism sector: analysing the policy environment in Vanuatu by LM Klint, E Wong, M Jiang & T Delacy, 2012
  • Dive tourism in Luganville, Vanuatu: shocks, stressors, and vulnerability to climate change by LM Klint, M Jiang, A Law, T Delacy, S Filep & E Calgaro, 2012
  • Mass-tourism, monetarization of rural communities and commodification of cultures in Vanuatu by M Tabani, 2012
  • Innovative works in Vanuatu: tourism and cultural industries by T Dick, B Farr-Wharton & K Brown, 2011
  • The Tourism–Foreign Aid Nexus in Vanuatu: Future Directions by JM Cheer & V Peel, 2011
  • Tourism and Tradition in Vanuatu by JM Cheer, 2011
  • Determinants of small Pacific Island tourism: a Vanuatu study by F Cassidy & L Brown, 2010
  • Improving ecotourism knowledge with digital video and photography in Vanuatu’s remote communities by ET Calderon, 2010
  • The price of tourism: land alienation in Vanuatu by M Stefanova, 2008
  • Dosalsal, the floating ones: exploring the socio-cultural impacts of cruise ship tourism on Port Vila, Vanuatu residents, and their coping strategies by AL Niatu, 2007
  • ‘Everything is Truthful Here’: Custom Village Tourism in Tanna, Vanuatu by P Robinson & J Connell, 2007
  • Cultural Tourism Strategy for Chief Roi Mata’s Domain (Northwest Efate, Vanuatu) by C Greig, 2006
  • The Con/Dominion of Vanuatu? Paying the Price of Investment and Land Liberalisation–A Case Study of Vanuatu’s Tourism Industry by C Slatter, 2006
  • Tourism, conservation, and the cultural environment in rural Vanuatu by CR Burlo & D Harrison, 2003
  • A study of the potential for future tourism development of the outer islands of Vanuatu from the visitor and resident perspective by FA Cassidy, 2001
  • Tourism planning Vanuatu: An historical study by N Douglas, 1998
  • Cultural resistance and ethnic tourism on South Pentecost, Vanuatu by C De Burlo, R Butler & T Hinch, 1996
  • Proposal for the establishment of the Nagha mo Pineia protected area: Wiawi Village, West Coast Malakula by L Tacconi, 1995
  • Tourism in Pacific Island microstates: a case study of Vanuatu by CM Hall, 1994
  • Tourism sector in Vanuatu, 1981-90: an empirical investigation by TK Jayaraman & J Andeng, 1993
  • Tourism and economic development in Vanuatu by S Milne, 1991
  • An examination of small scale tourism and hospitality sector business enterprises in Vanuatu by G Bani, 1989
  • Land alienation, land tenure, and tourism in Vanuatu, a Melanesian island nation by C Burlo, 1989
  • Neglected social factors in tourism project design: the case of Vanuatu by C Burlo, 1987
  • Indigenous response and participation in tourism in a southwest Pacific island nation, Vanuatu by CR Deburlo, 1985