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Bule impressed with VTO achievements

By Len Garae

Minister and Technical Team pose with VTO CEO and staff

On his first visit to the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO), as the second time Tourism Minister of Tourism, James Bule, praised the Chief Executive Officer, Adela Aru and her staff for developing the Institution to where it is today.

The minister congratulated VTO staff for making tourism become the main driver of the economy in the last 40 years.

After listening to the CEO and her Managers as they explained how they operate, the Minister is convinced that VTO has developed a lot.

To have successfully convinced the Government to increase the VTO budget from Vt139 million to Vt159 million then to Vt190 million in 2018 and to Vt325 million last year, reflects a dedication and professionalism on the part of the staff which the Minister is highly impressed of.

He said, “As your Minister, I am also on the National Budget Committee so submit your next budget and I will do my best to help achieve what you ask,” he assured VTO.

“The fact that our culture is so rich and so diverse; this is where we stand to promote our country to the outside world.

“We can see that the number of tourist arrivals has increased because of your effort to go out and tell the world that Vanuatu exists and has something to offer so they are most welcome to visit to be treated to something quite different and unique compared to other countries in the Pacific, including Fiji.

“This is what you have been doing and I am here to congratulate you all for our achievements and assure you that I will work with you in my current term in Government. With my presence in NBC, I am also a Shareholder in Air Vanuatu, so here I am ready to assist.”

The Minister acknowledged the impact of COVI-19 saying the virus is affecting the whole world but added, “…when the border reopens, we will definitely run very fast to overtake some of our close neighbours”.

The CEO responded, “We have to create Vanuatu to become the most competitive destination in the Pacific, not only for visitors but also investors that want to invest in Vanuatu’s Tourism Sector.”

Mrs Aru praised her committed staff for achieving the vision this year as per the Tourism Publication, “Tourism 2020”.

“We have made so many market researches to confirm that we must change ‘Discover What Matters’ and relaunch Vanuatu in the market place.

“Unfortunately for our target of one million cruise visitors by 2030, the current impact of COVID-19 now means a major cruise reform in the cruise sector.”

It remains to be seen based on advice from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises.

“I want to bring to your attention Minister our Improved Market Readiness. We want our local operators to be market ready not only for international markets but also for domestic markets.”

VTO is already eyeing marketing local products through its Provincial Tourism Operators.