Vanuatu’s Week of Tourism Conferences October 24-27
For the week 24-27 October Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila hosted three high powered tourism industry conferences, culminating on Friday 27 October with the gathering of tourism ministers from 17 South West Pacific countries. On Tuesday 24 October over 100 tourism industry leaders representing all of Vanuatu’s 83 islands gathered at the Warwick Le Lagon Hotel / resort for the Vanuatu national tourism forum. The forum was called to plan for Vanuatu’s tourism development over the next five years.
The following day (October 25) the Pacific Asia Travel Association in association with the South Pacific Tourism Organization joined forces to stage the Pacific Tourism Insights Conference held at Port Vila’s impressive new international conference centre. The PTIC involved presentations and interactive panel sessions from international travel industry leaders including PATA Chair Sarah Mathews, PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy and SPTO Chair Sonja Hunter. BBC journalist, Phil Mercer moderated the panel sessions. The PTIC looked at creative and innovative approaches to advancing tourism in the south pacific and was attended by over 150 tourism industry leaders from over 15 South Pacific countries.
The PTIC’s opening keynote speaker, Mr Rick Antonson, author and former head of Vancouver Tourism set the tenor for the many presentations which followed by explaining to delegates the importance of cathedral thinking. In plain language cathedral thinking involves designing policies, strategies and infrastructure which will last long into the future and be accessible and sustainable for many future generations.
The conference explored five key themes:
1. Connecting with the new traveler
2. Customers and Consumers, are they the same ?
3. Sustainability and what does this mean
4. Ingredients for success
5. Crisis and recovery
The week was a busy one for Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism the Hon. Joe Yhakowaie Nautman who officiated at all three conferences and was keen to demonstrate that Vanuatu was ready and able to welcome visitors from all over the world after enduring the damage caused by Cyclone Pam in 2015.
As many of the speakers attested, tourism is a very significant element and in some cases the dominant contributor to the national economies of most South Pacific island states. Strategies which ensure that tourism is developed in a manner which socially, economically and environmentally sustainable is vital to ensure the industry’s long term viability and to maintain its authenticity and appeal as a tourism destination. I was one of the speakers and this conference achieved the highest international standards.
PTIC organizer Chris Flynn who is PATA’s director Australasia-Pacific expressed his appreciation of the strong cooperation which has developed between PATA and the SPTO. He also thanked the Vanuatu Tourism Organization, Air Vanuatu and Warwick Le Lagon for their sponsorship and support of the conference.
ETB readers can access many of the presentations from the PTIC by logging onto HERE