The Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, Industry and Ni-Vanuatu Business has officially launched the Nabanga Stringband Competition, People’s Choice Award: Makura Tokolau’s new song — ‘Sapotem Lokol Turisim.’

VTO is a proud sponsor of the inaugural Nabanga Stringband Competition, held in November this year.

As part of VTO’s sponsorship of the event, VTO offered the winner of the competition’s People’s Choice Award the free production of a music video as a prize.

The group that won this year’s People’s Choice Award was Makura Tokolau from Makira Island. First formed in the 1970s, Makura Tokolau is a mainstay of Vanuatu’s music scene.

The group has written a new song, ‘Sapotem Lokol Tourism’ to highlight how at times like this, one should help support local tourism businesses.

Minister of Tourism James Bule who officiated the launch said “2020 is a year of struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic, on the other hand it has tested our efforts and creativity, in our various sectors on how to quickly adapt and focus in our recovery plans to support our local businesses.”

“93% of Vanuatu’s tourism businesses are small, Ni-Vanuatu-owned businesses, so it is up to each of us to help local businesses to thrive and survive in these difficult times,” he said.

“Support Local Tourism is a new campaign created by VTO since May, to promote the development of local businesses to support the tourism industry.

“Our Ministry is proud to sponsor Makura Tokolau’s new song which in turn, supports our local tourism operators.”

The Minister has congratulated the stringband group on composing their new song which portrays a message and reflects the beauty of Vanuatu.

The ‘Sapotem Lokol Tourism’ song also highlights how everyone is a domestic tourist: no matter whether it is going to the beach on weekends, visiting another island for work, for church or just to visit family – everyone is a domestic tourist.

Late last month, VTO flew Makura Tokolau to Emae Island to shoot a music video for the song, with local video makers Groovy Banana behind the camera.

The video highlights the amazing features that this country offers local tourists – incredible island landscapes, beautiful beaches and reefs to relax on, the beautiful smiles and spirit of families and friends, unique customs, cultures and traditions, and fresh and healthy local kakai straight out of the garden.

VTO Chief Executive Officer Adela Issachar Aru commented Makura Tokolau has also signed an exclusive deal for the next 2 years, to continue to compose and promote local music with a powerful message that promotes local tourism in Vanuatu.

“VTO hopes the video will encourage more and more people to see our beautiful islands with fresh eyes. With no international tourists able to visit us right now, we are the tourists – and there’s never been a better time to get out and see our own country!”

VTO is currently running a domestic tourism marketing campaign on social media, TV and radio to showcase all of the wonderful offers from local tourism businesses available for domestic tourists across the country. No matter the budget, there are offers available to suit, so everyone can show their support for local tourism.

Offers from restaurants, hotels, resorts, tours and more can be found on VTO’s Facebook page and personal Facebook and Instagram account newsfeeds, and on TV and radio.

VTO is also providing its Free Fun Bus services on Efate and Espiritu Santo to assist people to get out to rural areas and support tourism businesses outside of our urban centres.

Earlier this week, the VTO held a one-day flash sale on domestic airfares with partner Air Vanuatu where customers were required to purchase a tourism voucher to be spent in tourism businesses across the country, to also encourage domestic consumers to use tourism businesses outside of Port Vila.

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