New Zealand High Commission Port Vila, Vanuatu


It is an honour for me to represent the New Zealand Government at the opening of this Strategic Tourism Stakeholders Forum, which will discuss the future direction of the tourism sector in Vanuatu.

I understand that you will be discussing and providing feedback on a draft Strategic Tourism Action Plan.

This is an important document, and it needs to be informed by your views as representatives of Vanuatu's tourism sector. And as individuals who want to see tourism grown in Vanuatu in a way that is sustainable and that benefits the country and its people.

I understand that the purpose of this Strategic Tourism Action Plan is to form an agreed, strategic and coordinated approach to the development of a sustainable tourism sector. So that we can increase investment, income and the spread of sustainable tourism benefits throughout Vanuatu.

It's important that this Strategic Action Plan reflects your views, and is owned by you. It's important that it is put to good use and doesn't end up gathering dust on a shelf.

It's important because this Strategic Action Plan will guide the Vanuatu Government, the private sector, and development partners such as New Zealand, for the next five years. It will guide the decisions that we make about our support for, and our investment in, the tourism sector in Vanuatu.

So it's important to get it right. And I appreciate the effort that you are making to ensure this.

The New Zealand Government is pleased to support you in developing this Strategic Tourism Action Plan.

We're supporting it because tourism is so important to Vanuatu's economic future. Tourism is Vanuatu's most important source of foreign exchange earnings. Tourism accounts for the direct employment of over 11,000 people. Tourism is more important to Vanuatu's economy than any other Pacific Island Country.

So tourism matters. And that's why tourism has become a high priority for the New Zealand Aid Programme in Vanuatu. Because Vanuatu matters to New Zealand.

New Zealand's support for the development of the Strategic Tourism Action Plan complements our support for the Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme, which was launched by the Minister of Tourism last Friday.

It also complements our partnership with the Government of Vanuatu to rehabilitate the Seafront Park and Cruise Ship Area as tourism precincts, thorugh the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project.

An it complements the work that the New Zealand Volunteers are doing to promote tourism in SHEFA, SANMA and MALAMPA provinces.

The Strategic Tourism Action Plan that you will be discussing today may not be as big or as high-profile as the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project or the Vanuatu Tourism Ambassador Programme. But it is just as important. Because New Zealand and other development partners need to know where you, the owners and guardians of Vanuatu's tourism sector, want to go, so we can help you get there.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge my fellow New Zealanders, Dave Bamford and Mereana Mills, for their role in drafting the Strategic Tourism Action Plan.

I would like to wish you well for your discussions today.

And, last, but not least, I would like to thank you for your attention.


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