Mr. Randy Durband, GSTC CEO, has visited Vanuatu, a new GSTC Destination Member, in June 2018.
The visit included signing an MOU with the Acting Director of Vanuatu Department of Tourism, Mr. Donald Pelam. The MOU is to support Vanuatu’s tourism industry on the progress it is making in the path to becoming a sustainable tourism destination. Mr. Pelam stated that this MOU follows the newly developed Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VSTP) 2018-2030 which includes ambitious but achievable objectives based on the GSTC Criteria for sustainable destinations. Activities outlined in the MOU seek to raise the standards of Vanuatu’s Tourism Permits and Accreditation Program (VTPAP) to incorporate GSTC Criteria into the VTPAP as part of the continuous improvement.
Mr. Pelam also acknowledged and thanked the New Zealand Aid funded VSTAP for its technical advice and financial support. The VTPAP program incorporates some of the GSTC Industry Criteria, yet there is a need to incorporate more of these criteria to ensure protection for these vital resources.
The process of raising the level of GSTC Criteria within the VTPAP will take place through a continuous improvement program reviewing criteria every two years. This continuous improvement alongside the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VTSP 2018-2030) will seek to ensure Vanuatu’ tourism industry is economically viable, culturally aware and environmentally responsible.
VSTP Technical Advisor, Dr. Cherise Addinsall highlighted, “The Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (VSTP) provides a supporting framework for Vanuatu to work towards potentially becoming the first South Pacific country to be a certified destination according to the GSTC Criteria, therefore putting Vanuatu on the global stage for sustainable tourism”.
Mr. Durband applauded the success of the Vanuatu Tourism Permits and Accreditation Program (VTPAP) to raise standards in Vanuatu’s tourism industry and looks forward to supporting DoT to continue to incorporate GSTC criteria into the VTPAP as part of the continuous improvement.
Jerry Spooner, Principal Accreditation Officer at Vanuatu Department of Tourism, stressed, “the sustainability of projects requires locals to take lead with consultants offering a supportive role only, our program looked externally for support in the final stages of implementation once we had developed the program ourselves and we thank both the Australian Government through the Australian Volunteers Program and the New Zealand Government for funding Ecotourism Australia to provide us support”.
Spooner also commented on the wide level of stakeholder engagement suggesting this investment of time is key to the large-scale buy-in of the program to date. Over 800 tourism operators in Vanuatu were engaged in the development of the standards over a 2-year time frame. This stakeholder engagement was largely facilitated through engagement with both the functioning and active tourism associations and local and Provincial Government in each Province of Vanuatu.
An addition to the workshop in Santo was the launching of the SANMA Luganville Hospitality and Cookery Association. The event was witnessed by Mr. Randy Durband, the Sanma DoT manager and the Sanma DoT team, the Provincial Compliance, DCIR representative, Deputy Mayor Luganville Town Council and other stakeholders including the newly appointed Agritourism, Officer Mrs. Hannah Ubl (Australian Volunteers Program funded by the Australian Government).