Tourism is the most significant developing sector for Vanuatu. However Ni Vanuatu tourism operators are a minority and many local bungalow operations , particularly in provincial areas , are not able to maintain viable businesses.
The AusAID- funded TVET Sector Strengthening Program, currently based in Sanma and Malampa, has its objectives to provide training services to support economic growth in the two provinces, and build up local entrepreneurship. Support top the local Tourism sector is therefore a priority and earlier this year a pilot ” Business Development Assistance for Bungalow Owners” program was launched in Malampa with the collaboration of the National Tourism Office. Eight Bungalow Owners were selected by the local Tourism Officer and are now part of a 6 month workshop and coaching program. Pascal Gavotto, owner of the Vila based Fatumaru Lodge ,has been contracted by the TVET program to conduct the initiative.
According to Pascal ” classroom style training by itself is not sufficient for such a demanding business sector because as soon as the trainees go back to their properties they often find it difficult to implement what they have learn and to keep up the necessary standard”. The originality of this program is to combine workshops with monthly coaching sessions on site to make sure the theory is practically applied to the businesses.
A highlight of the activity took place this week when the TVET program organized a “study tour” by participating bungalow owners to the most successful bungalow style properties in Santo. The aim of this tour was to provide an opportunity to understand tourists expectation and obtain ideas from the most attractive sites , bungalow designs and decors.
Ratua Private Island, Aore Island resort, Moyna house by the sea and Oyster island resort all opened their doors to the participants to share their experiences. As Jean Michel Maleb , owner of Tam Tam bungalows in Vao, Malekula explained,” we were amazed to see that foreign investors were using more local materials than the Ni-Vanuatu! I think we have fooled ourselves by trying to use modern construction materials as now realise there was not one piece of cement or one calico on a table, only wood everywhere”.
The participants stayed at Lonnoc bungalows, close to Champagne Beach, to attend workshop in the newly built conference room. Here, the local owner and manager outlined their owned “success story ” and encouraged the Malampa -based audience to use the training that they are receiving to realize their own small business dreams.
It is ideed hoped that, with the continued training support of the TVET program, and improvements in provincial communication infrastructure and easier access to source of finance, these bungalow owners will play a key role in the economic development of Malampa Province.