Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO)’s Turisim Marketing Storian (TMS) in PENAMA Province has affirmed room for growth and the province’s potential as a hard adventure tourism destination.
“When we receive domestic guests, we house and provide meals for them, but we don’t offer extra sightseeing activities’’, says Mr Enoch Singo, owner of Bethany Guest House in Saratamata, East Ambae.
“Through VTO’s Turisim Marketing Storian visit, our eyes are now open to the possibility of including tours and activities to our guests as well, as a way of adding value.”
PENAMA Province is world famous for Pentecost’s land diving festivals, Ambae’s Manaro Voui volcano and waterfalls of Maewo.
Since Vanuatu’s border closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the people of PENAMA have still benefited from the domestic tourism market through a small but steady flow of government, NGO and community workers.
However, most of the business that these visits generate goes to accommodation providers, which means there is still room to grow the domestic market in PENAMA so that other categories of tourism businesses get a greater slice of the domestic tourism pie.
Through VTO’s TMS visit to PENAMA the week before last, tourism business owners were able to see new opportunities for marketing their businesses and attractions.
The PENAMA TMS visit updated vital information about each business, gathered digital assets for use in marketing, and helped each business establish an online marketing presence so that businesses can be more easily located. During the TMS workshop, Facebook pages and Google My Business accounts were created so tourism businesses can be found on these two most popular online platforms.
The team also helped the tourism operators create attractive offers that VTO can market in our Sapotem Lokol Turisim domestic tourism marketing campaign.
The VTO team was accompanied by Department of Tourism staff, plus board member and chairman of the PENAMA Tourism Association, Mr Hollingsworth Garae.
According to VTO’s Marketing Officer, Melissa Bule, PENAMA has huge potential as a hard adventure tourism destination.
“The hard adventure tourism aspect of this province comes from the fact that PENAMA’s amazing attractions are sometimes off the beaten track.
“The tourists who take the effort to visit Penama are rewarded with the experience of the incredible beauty of PENAMA’s people, its kastom, and its natural attractions”, she says.
Vanuatu’s domestic tourists are showing just as much interest in hard adventure tourism as our international guests.
Through the TMS visit, tourism operators in Penama were able to brainstorm ways where they can apply this knowledge to create offers and packages that entice people to visit from Vila and Luganville.
According to Hollingsworth Garae, the current period of border closure presents a great opportunity for tourism operators to build on the knowledge gained through TMS workshops.
“During seasons with low tourist numbers, growing the domestic tourism market will provide much-needed income for our tourism businesses, and the marketing work that VTO does in the domestic market will also pay dividends to Penama tourism businesses when our borders eventually open to international visitors again, hopefully in the near future,” he says.