USEFUL INFORMATION TO KNOW

General contacts: For general matters relating to the conference, contact the Conference Organising Committee on:

Ms Roshni Hurdowar (conference organiser) rhurdowar@vanuatu.gov.vu +678 5484886

Emergency contacts:

Police: 22222

Promedical community ambulance: 115

Northern Provincial Hospital in Luganville +678 36345

On arrival: If arriving by air and after clearing Immigration and Customs at the airport in Port Vila or Santo, look for the Welkam to the Sustainable Islands Tourism Conference sign in the arrival hall and we’ll have transport to take you to your accommodation. For those travelling to Santo on a domestic flight from Vila, there will also be a Welkam sign. (If you arrive by another method late, please make your way to your accommodation or conference venue as appropriate).

Conference Venue: The Conference will be conducted at Champagne Beach, East Santo which is approximately 45mins drive from Luganville.

Transfers between Accommodation and Conference Venues: Minivans have been arranged to take you from your accommodation to the conference venue and afternoon eco-tour activities and return to your accommodation. We request participants be on time at the designated pickup/drop-off locations and that you prepare for the day or evening activities in advance.  This will help us keep the program on schedule.

Language: English language will be used throughout the formal conference sessions. When talking with local people you will find that while many speak good English, Bislama is the preferred dialect.  Some Ni-Vanuatu speak quietly compared with people from other language groups; they can also have an infectious laugh and sing beautifully – be prepared for friendly smiles and to smile in return.

Currency: The local currency used in Vanuatu is called ‘Vatu’ and is available from ATMs, banks, local exchange dealers and some hotels.  Rates will vary as will international transaction fees, the latter which can be expensive.  Notes come in 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, and 200 Vatu denominations, and coins in 100, 50, 20 and 10 vatu denominations.  You are advised to carry and use cash rather than credit card facilities that are not typically available or used.

Local Transport: The local transport consists of minivans that seat up to 10 people to varying levels of comfort, and private taxis.  Minivans are the cheapest transport and will cost 150 vatu per person door to door, so have low denomination currency available; nothing more than 500 or preferably 200 vatu. Tell the driver: “Halo, mi wantum wantem go lo …” add the name of your location and pay the money when you arrive. You can say: “yu stop lo ples ia plis” to ask the driver to stop, and don’t forget to add: “tankiu tumas” as a way of saying thank you.

Telephone: If you want to buy an in-country mobile sim and use a local number, you can buy a TVL or Digicel sim at the airport in Luganville and other advertised locations.  Be aware that local costs are quite expensive compared to other countries and that the 7 digit Vanuatu mobile number may not be recognised by other country telecoms; e.g., in the case of sending bank or other SMS codes.

Internet Connectivity: The internet connection in Vanuatu is not strong compared to other international destinations and can vary considerably depending on your location in the country. While it is possible to get a reasonable signal be prepared for no connection or drop outs on some popular social media apps.

Power Supply: Vanuatu runs on a 240V power supply using a three pin Australian/New Zealand plug.  The power supply is considered stable but may shut down due to system outages.

Water Safety: The water at the conference venue, accommodation, and activity tour locations is considered ‘potable’ and safe to drink.  However, if you are concerned, consider drinking bottled water or boiling water if this facility is available to you. Don’t forget to keep yourself well hydrated during the conference and take water with you on activity tours.

Food safety: The quality of food services in Vanuatu is generally safe.  And by all means, enjoy the local restaurants and cafes although be prepared to pay a little more than comparable destinations due to higher costs.  Some food services, however, may not accord with practices in other regions of the world.  It is advisable therefore to practice good sanitation practices while visiting Vanuatu such as hand washing before eating and drinking. If you have specific dietary needs please contact the organising committee; although please note our limited resources mean we may not be able to cater to all needs.

First aid: The conference venues, accommodation and activity sites should have a first aid kit for minor accidents and injuries.  Perhaps bring your own supply of a few bandaids, antiseptic cream, anti-diarrhoea and rehydration medications, and analgesics.  Be careful of minor cuts and scratches as they can infect easily in the tropical conditions.

Medical aid: For more extensive assistance contact the Northern Provincial Hospital in Luganville on +678 36345 or for emergencies call Promedical on +678 25566. Please follow your doctor’s medical instructions in regard to personal medications and other health care matters.  Malaria and other mosquito borne diseases are present, but are less likely to occur in the conference location.

Petty Crime: While the Ni-Vanuatu are renowned for their friendliness and Vanuatu is generally considered a safe destination, minor ‘opportunistic’ crimes may occur.  The best way to reduce such occurrences is to maintain a state of mindfulness about your personal situation and possessions; e.g., don’t make yourself a target by ensuring the security of money, phones, laptops and the like.

Disaster Preparedness: Vanuatu is prone to cyclones, earth quakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.  In the unlikely event of such disasters, it is recommended you follow the advice of conference organisers or local staff in regard to warnings and appropriate actions.

Weather: The temperatures in Santo during the conference are likely to vary around 20C (minimum) and 30C (maximum). Expect warm to hot conditions and cloudy to sunny days, with high humidity and the potential for cooler temperatures during showers or rain. Dress appropriately in loose fitting clothes and solid sandals, and perhaps use the opportunity to show off those colourful dresses and shirts – you’ll look and feel part of the magic that is Vanuatu.

AFTERNOON ECO-TOUR ACTIVITIES

Loru Conservation Site

Join us for a 2 hour tour of the Loru Conservation Site to learn about the innovative Nakau Programme.  Being one of three projects sites in the South Pacific, including sites in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, the Loru project aims to improve the economic well-being and reduce the vulnerability of the indigenous Sarkar Clan landowners to climate related risks.  This is achieved by helping the landowners sell carbon offsets and conservation credits instead of harvesting timber and clearing land for coconut plantations.  On this tour you’ll learn how the program operates, and what challenges and opportunities have been encountered.  You will also experience the magnificence of the Vanuatu jungle where you will plant a tree from the community nursery, and maybe encounter many endemic birds and the endangered coconut crab, along with the hospitality of the local people. Bring sturdy footwear, rain/sun protection, sunscreen/mosquito repellent, a water bottle, camera, and a capacity for moments of considered reflection and possibility.

The Riri Blue Hole Experience or the Matevulu Blue Hole Experience

Ever wondered what makes a blue hole blue? Each blue hole experience involves a 2 hour round trip; interested participants are asked to select from one of the two tours.

Claimed to be Vanuatu’s prettiest blue hole attraction and rated by Trip Advisor as 4.5 stars, the Riri Blue Hole Experience will take you on a gentle outrigger canoe trip where you can sit and observe the wonders of nature.  You can also swim in the stunningly blue clear water, fed from underground springs and fringed by thick verdant jungle.  But be prepared to share some of the experience with locals and cruise tourists as this is a popular attraction. Bring swimmers and a towel if you want to swim, rain/sun protection, sunscreen/mozzie repellent, a water bottle, camera, and a capacity for moments of wonder and relaxation.

Fancy being a little more active, then paddling The Matevulu Blue Hole in a double or single sit-on-top kayak might take your interest.  Also rated as a 4.5 star experience on Trip Advisor, the tour provides the opportunity to travel with Island Time Kayaking on a 30-45 minute trip along the Crystal River.  Bring swimmers/shorts and a towel if you want to paddle/swim, rain/sun protection, sunscreen/mosquito repellent, a water bottle, camera, and a capacity for moments of gentle activity and discovery

Tree of Life Tour

Why does a boy in Vanuatu need to be able to climb a coconut tree and how many uses can be made from the tree and its coconuts?  The 2 hour Tree of Life Tour will take you to the Colmar Plantation, a locally owned and operated business that farms coconuts and its products.  The tour takes place in a unique Kastom style setting with typical hut, a Nakamal bar and a store with locally created jewellery and art.  Be prepared for some interesting hands on demonstrations. Guaranteed you’ll acquire a whole new world view about the humble coconut. Bring rain/sun protection, sunscreen/mosquito repellent, a water bottle, camera, and a capacity for moments of learning and surprise.

CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Anjali Nelson has been engaged in Vanuatu since 2009 working with communities and the Government on sustainable resource management.  As co-designer of the Nakau Programme, Anjali managed the first indigenous-owned certified forest carbon project in the Pacific Islands.  Her recent work has sought to strengthen linkages between Vanuatu’s tourism sector and indigenous environmental management in Vanuatu.  Anjali has led projects to create partnerships between operators and local communities as well as supporting national initiatives to develop a sustainable tourism standard and code of conduct for operators in area of ecological and cultural significance.

Betty Weiler is Professor of Tourism at the Gold Coast campus of Southern Cross University in Australia.  In her 3 decades of experience as a tourism educator, researcher and writer in Australian universities, she has established a reputation as an outstanding tourism scholar with 150+ publications, recipient of major competitive research grants, and as an editorial board member of six prominent tourism journals.  Betty’s reputation has been enhanced through for her collaborative and practical approach to research, and she has subsequently been recognized as an award winning PhD supervisor and mentor for many higher degree students and colleagues.  Betty is particularly known for her work on understanding the tourist experience, tour guiding, visitor management in national parks, and in wildlife and heritage attractions.  Not surprisingly, she is an outdoor enthusiast herself, having trekked and hiked in natural and wilderness areas on nearly every continent.  Betty has also been involved in a wide range of tourism projects and capacity-building work in many developing countries including countries in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Africa and the South Pacific including Vanuatu.  She was an advisor on Vanuatu’s 2019 Sustainable Tourism Policy and continues to work on its implementation in collaboration with the Director of Tourism.

Cherise Addinsall is a Research Fellow in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering at Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia; has a PhD in Sustainable Tourism, a Bachelor in Environmental Tourism Management with First Class Honours; and holds a University medal for outstanding academic achievement. Her research interests cover sustainable tourism policy and planning, sustainable carrying capacity, agritourism and agroecological tourism, sociocultural aspects of rural livelihoods in island cultures, enhancing the livelihoods of women and marginalised people in the Pacific, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and Pay for Environmental Services (PES).  Cherise has conducted research with the Vanuatu Department of Tourism, the CRC for Remote Economic Participation, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Global Environmental Fund, Live and Learn, and the Nakau Programme. Cherise is also a Sustainable Tourism Trainer for the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and a Director of Sustainable Islands States specialising in sustainable livelihoods options for small island states.

Diana Koerner works as a freelance sustainable tourism consultant for various stakeholders such as the Institute de la Francophonie pour le Développement Durable (IFDD) and is a team member of the Berlin based consultancy mascontour GmbH.  She has a university background in Tourism Management with a BA, IMC from the University of Applied Sciences in Krems, Austria; and a Master of Science from the Skema Business School in France.  Having started in the hospitality sector, Diana joined the Coordination Office of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism at the United Nations, before working as an international consultant on sustainable tourism projects as part of the mascontour GmbH team.  From 2016-2019 Diana was based in Seychelles where she co-founded the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Foundation.  This NGO acts as a connecting platform for tourism stakeholders in the Seychelles, facilitates partnerships and joint initiatives for sustainable tourism in various areas of interest, and is pursuing a five-year goal for the Seychelles to be certified as a sustainable tourism destination.  Diana is a Global Sustainable Tourism Council trainer and a board member of the international NGO: Linking Tourism and Conservation.

Johnny Edmonds is the Director of the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA).  He is a traditional landowner in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Owner Director of a New Zealand based consulting company that specializes in Indigenous economic development.  Johnny has held executive management positions for various Indigenous non-profit organizations for the past 18 years in New Zealand and Australia.  These include the Waitangi National Trust, the Taitokerau Regional Maori Tourism Organisation, the New Zealand Maori Tourism Council and the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council.  He has also served on various tourism industry Boards in New Zealand and Australia.

John Barrett’s whakapapa or tribal genealogy belongs to the Ngati Raukawa, Te Ati Awa and Ngati Toarangatira.  He is the Managing Director and founder of Kapiti Island Nature Tours and Nature Lodge, a family operated tourism business located on one of New Zealand’s premier nature reserves.  In 2018, Kapiti Island was awarded the Outstanding Nature & Conservation Tourism Award, while in 2017, John’s business activities were nationally recognised as the Best Maori Tourism Business in the New Zealand Tourism Awards. John has more than 35 years of management and governance experience in a range of private and public organisations and enterprises.  He is currently active as a founding member on the Leadership Council of World Indigenous Tourism Alliance and member of the Natural Resources Management Committee – Ati Awa ki Whakarongotai’s Taiao Komiti.  John recently retired as Director of Tourism New Zealand, the country’s leading tourism marketing organisation, and was a former Chair of the Maori Tourism Council and member of the Maori Language University – Te Mana Whakahaere-Te Waananga o Raukawa.

Joseph Cheer is currently working as a Professor at the Center for Tourism Research, Wakayama University.  During his academic career Joseph’s research has focused on sustainability and resilience, social justice, biopolitics, and cultural and economic geographies in the Asia Pacific region.  He has co-authored several books including Tourism Resilience and Adaptation to Environmental Change (2018); Tourism Resilience and Sustainability: Adapting to Social, Political and Economic Change (2018); Overtourism: Excesses and Measures in Travel and Tourism (2019); and Modern Day Slavery and Orphanage Tourism (2019).  His work has also appeared in journals including the Annals of Tourism Research, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Geographies, and in mainstream media outlets such as The Conversation.  Joseph has guest edited Special issues in prominent tourism, geographical and anthropological journals; lectured in the globally top ranked Masters of International Sustainable Management at Monash University in Australia; been a member of the International Geographical Union (IGU) Commission on Tourism and Leisure, and a steering committee member on Critical Tourism Studies in the Asia Pacific.  In addition to his academic interests, Joseph has undertaken tourism consultancy projects for private and public sector organizations such as being the Technical Adviser for the Australia Pacific Technical College’s School of Tourism and Hospitality in Vanuatu.

Michele Maccari is an independent consultant based in Italy with 20 years of experience in international cooperation and development.  His major area of interest is in Sustainability with expertise in sustainable agriculture particularly agroecology and organic agriculture; sustainable value chains; and sustainable tourism.  He has managed and coordinated several multi-country and multi-stakeholders projects with specific focus on public private partnerships. Michele is passionate about exploring and building synergies and fair partnerships among stakeholders, with a specific attention to smallholders.  He is currently engaged in PhD research that investigates the relationship between sustainable food value chains and sustainable tourism in small island developing states.

Randy Durband is the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the UN-supported NGO that establishes and manages global baseline standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. GSTC Criteria aim to minimize negative environmental, cultural, and social impacts while maximizing travel and tourism as a force for well-being.  He brings a unique blend of skills and experience based on two career paths: 24 years in senior leadership positions with major tour operators, including President of Travcoa, INTRAV and Clipper Cruise Lines and Executive Vice President of Tauck World Discovery; and 10+ years on tourism development projects with UNESCO and the ILO in developing countries in Asia and South America. He joined GSTC in 2012 and became CEO February 2014.  Randy is a frequent speaker on sustainable tourism and has served on tourism boards in Europe, North America, and Asia; and sustainable tourism awards judging panels including the WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, UN Environment Inspire Awards, and the PATA Gold Awards.

Rick Murray runs Middle Star consulting, a business offering Tourism Development Services to organisations across the northern part of Australia.  He pioneered experience-based, minimal impact tours through his company, Odyssey Tours & Safaris that subsequently became known as a leading industry operation.  Rick’s 30+ years of experience covers natural and cultural heritage management; Protected Area, Aboriginal Freehold Land and Pastoral Lease legislation and practice; visitor experience planning; cooperative arrangements between government and private enterprise; and using tourism to promote sustainable regional development. He has served on the Advisory Board of Tourism NT; the Kakadu Tourism Consultative Committee, Kakadu National Park Board of Management, Ecotourism Australia, and Nitmiluk Tours in Katherine, NT; and has spoken at conferences across Australia and in the South-East Asia.  Rick’s contribution has been recognised through being awarded the 2018 Northern Territory Tourism Minister’s Perpetual Trophy.

Robert Oliver is a New Zealand chef who was raised in Fiji and Samoa. He is the Executive Director and founder of ‘Pacific Island Food Revolution’ and has developed restaurants in the US and Australia, ‘farm to table’ resorts in the Caribbean and food programs for homeless people and African immigrants with AIDS.  Robert is known for his globally recognised and award winning books: Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific’ (2010) and Mea’ai Samoa: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia (2013).  Both books are exemplary for the manner in which they celebrate traditional cuisine and indigenous culture, and for connecting Pacific agriculture with regional tourism.  Among his other contributions, Robert is the Chef Le Cordon Bleu for New Zealand and Fiji Airways, was a judge on the New Zealand television production of ‘My Kitchen Rules’, and a co-host for the Maori reality cooking show ‘Marae Kai Masters.’  In 2017, Robert was honoured with a KEA World Class New Zealander Award and was named UNDP Advocate for Pacific Health, Food and Sustainability.

Serge Warakar is a Local Projects Officer for Live & Learn Vanuatu, a local NGO. Serge’s family business, Ser-Thiac, was awarded the 2019 United Nations’ Equator Prize for indigenous resource management.  Ser-Thiac has reduced approximately 15,000 tons of CO2 emissions to date and offers a powerful new model for carbon credits based on indigenous land rights, stewardship, and climate resilience.  Serge will be hosting conference participants in the Loru Community Conservation Area owned by SerThiac.

Votausi Reur is known as ‘The Queen of Ni-Van Cuisine’.  She studied as a nutritionist at Queensland University in Australia and had her “aha” moment when she realized that her own cultural cuisine ticked all the nutritional boxes she was learning about.  Votausi returned to Vanuatu and formed ‘Lapita Café Limited’, which produces food products from local crops, supplied by a network of over 1000 farmers that she has cultivated over the years.  A true Pacific trailblazer, Votausi sparkles on film: she is said to ‘truly live what she preaches.’  Votausi hosted ‘Real Pasifik Vanuatu’ with Robert Oliver and was the Vanuatu Co-Host for the ‘Pacific Island Food Revolution’.

USEFUL CONFERENCE RESOURCES