New Zealand High Commission Port Vila, Vanuatu

High Commissioner's address for Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme launch

NZ High Commission staff at the launch

High Commissioner Bill Dobbie celebrates the launch of the New Zealand-funded Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme.

It is an honour to represent the New Zealand Government at this ceremony today to celebrate the New Zealand Aid Programme sponsored "Mekem Gud, Mekem Mane" Tourism Ambassador Programme.

The Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme will help stimulate Vanuatu's tourism growth.

This means, next year, tourism experts from New Zealand and Vanuatu will provide training to over 100 tourist operators in Vanuatu in improving their tourism activities. The experts will assist businesses to understand better the needs of the tourist.

This is very important. If a tourist appreciates the services provided by a tourism business in Vanuatu, I think they will chose to stay longer in Vanuatu, and more so, they may decide to come back to Vanuatu in the future.

The longer they stay, the more dollars they spend in Vanuatu. More dollars spent means greater employment opportunities in Vanuatu's Tourism sector and this will boost Vanuatu's economic prosperity. This is important because it can entice the single-day tourists that arrive on cruise visits to come back to Vanuatu for a longer holiday.

This is why tourism businesses in Vanuatu need greater awareness of the needs of the tourists and to provide a better service to their customers.

Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme will strengthen all the different varieties of tourism businesses in Vanuatu such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators, public transport including buses and taxis, and ''mothers'' involved in the handicraft trade.

If you have a tourism business and wish to be part of the Tourism Ambassador Programme, you should consult the Department of Tourism or the Vanuatu Tourism Office.

The New Zealand Government is happy to support the Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme because tourism is important for Vanuatu's economy. Tourism represents 40% of Vanuatu's economy. Over 6,000 people are employed in the tourism sector and tourists spend approximately 260 million $NZD annually in Vanuatu.

If Vanuatu embraces tourism as an important activity, likewise, New Zealand, as a friend of Vanuatu will also embrace tourism as an important activity. That is why we are happy to support the Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme.

We've labelled this project "Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme" because every Ni-Vanuatu owned tourism business and every locals employed in the industry are ambassadors of tourism in Vanuatu. Every time they meet a tourist, they represent the industry.

New Zealand is proud to support this important project. But we are not the drivers. You, the owners and employees in the tourism industry are the leaders. New Zealand will support your leadership to ensure that Vanuatu not only remains as a beautiful and friendly country but also becomes the number one tourism destination in our Pacific Region because of the services which you provide to the tourists that visit this country.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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