Vanuatu Tourism Office’s (VTO) 11th annual tourism and trade show ‘Tok Tok Vanuatu’, which took place in Port Vila last week, has been deemed a success as a record breaking number of wholesalers and media from around the world attended the event.
Held at the Holiday Inn’s Private Island golf terrace, more than 70 wholesalers, travel agents and media from around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, China, Fiji, America and even as far as Europe, engaged with more than 100 Vanuatu suppliers, including properties, tour operators and local tourism offices.
VTO general manager Linda Kalpoi said Tok Tok Vanautu 2014 plays a key role in attracting visitors to choose Vanuatu as their holiday destination.
“This year, we have decided to incorporate the theme of Vanuatu cultures into Tok Tok, to get visitors thinking about Vanuatu as a diverse destination with plenty on offer and it is also the first year that every provincial tourism office will be represented, which is a significant milestone and sign that the event is strengthening its appeal here and abroad,” Ms Kalpoi said.
With “Celebrate Vanuatu Cultures” as this year’s theme, Tok Tok kicked off with a choice of famils on the islands of Espiritu Santo or Tanna, showcasing to buyers and media Vanuatu’s unique island cultures and products, from exploring Millenium Cave in Santo to trekking up Tanna’s Mount Yasur volcano.
The official conference took place all day Thursday and Friday morning, with an official opening ceremony welcome from major sponsor over ten years, ANZ Bank, which donated more than one million vatu to Tok Tok Vanuatu.
“Its no surprise that tourism and hospitality underpin the economic growth of Vanuatu and it is events like Tok Tok Vanuatu that play an integral role in the success of the industry and importantly, highlighting Vanuatu’s unique tourist offering in what is a very competitive global market place,” ANZ chief executive officer Steve Roger said.
“Tok Tok not only showcases the strength of the industry and the variety of the tourism products we have here, it also provides the opportunity for stakeholders to share ideas lobby government and community groups and recognise the things we do really well and things we can improve on.”
Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister & Tourism Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, announced he would boost the funding for VTO’s marketing budget, after citing a low level of marketing investment as a significant contributor to the decline in tourist arrivals over the past year.
“As the single most significant event in the Vanuatu tourism calendar, and a major catalyst for ongoing tourism growth in the country, Tok Tok is of the utmost importance to the people of Vanuatu and our government, and I will do my very best to increase the VTO 2015 budget.”
Although Mr Lini Vanuaroroa did not specify a figure, he said he was confident that a proposal of new initiatives, such as building more accessible ports on the outer islands, would gain the government support needed to move forwarded, stressing that sustainable tourism growth remains the government’s main priority.
Furthermore, with tourism in Vanuatu currently contributing around 70 percent to the economy, Mr Lini Vanuaroroa also mentioned plans to focus on the Asian market as well as looked forward to the opening of the new convention centre, which is due to open in Port Vila in 2015, with a 1,000 plus capacity.