Development of tourism industry and its significant contribution to the growth of the national economy has gained recognition by the government; and is the reason tourism industry is featured prominently in national development planning. Reality is it is the industry that maintains NOT only positive but strong growth over the recent years compared to other industries. For example rate of growth represented by Accommodation and Food Services between 2005 and 2014 was 63%.
Most of the tourism development projects are foreign-owned with the majority (80%) located in the Port Vila. While repeated calls have been made to expand tourism developments to the rural parts of the country, it remains to be seen to what extent this call will be achieved.
Tourism defined as a combination of the industries (Accommodation and Food Services, Transport, Retail Trade and Other wholesale Trade) remain the dominant industries under the services sector. They maintained positive growth thus remains the country's most successful sector in terms of positive contribution to economic growth.
More specifically, this industry:
- Contributed more than 20 percent to country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) /li>
- Contributed up to 6,000 jobs to locals
- Number of visitor arrivals averaged (2007-2010) 92,000 annually with slight decrease of 3.5 percent in 2010.
- Occupancy rates averaged 66-80% with average length of stay of 9-10 nights
- Number of cruise ships docking at the Port Vila harbor averaged 8 ships per month and is still increasing
- Contributed to increase in the number of international flights
- Contributed to increase in number of visitors to outer the islands
The Government is convinced of the impacts of the industry. Recent developments have seen improvements in infrastructure and upgrading of existing facilities to cater for the emerging demand of tourism activities. Vanuatu's two main entry ports are now under upgrading and extensions which upon completion will see bigger and more frequent cruise ships docking into the Vanuatu harbors. Likewise, its two main international airports will be receiving expansions and upgrading to meet international standards. Achieving this means bigger planes will be arriving in both Port Port Vila and Luganville. This will also allow long haul flights into Vanuatu.
Australia and New Zealand remain Vanuatu's main tourism market. While this will remain so, Vanuatu is progressing developments to tap into the Asian tourism market. With current strong and effective bilateral agreements, it is highly likely that this shift will be forthcoming in the medium term.
It is very clear that the government's call to diversify tourism into the rural parts of the country will be forthcoming given current level of infrastructure development taking place some of the islands. For example, a tar-sealed road in both Tanna and Malekula will both see increased tourism numbers to the two islands.
Following current developments, investment opportunities envisaged will not focus on tourism only, but other sectors as well. For example a tertiary hospital is necessary to provide assurance to visitors when coming to Vanuatu. Further, the need for increased supply of local foods is necessary to sustain demands from hotel clients. More specifically, opportunities will include but not limited to:
- Resort with Large conference, Business/leisure hotel,
- 4 star family based resort
- Marina and yacht servicing facilities
- Adventure lodge