All smiles for Tok Tok 2016
THE happiest place in the South Pacific welcomed buyers, suppliers and media for Vanuatu’s thirteenth annual Tok Tok travel trade show at Iririki Island Resort & Spa in late August. Industr y par tners from Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, China, the US and Italy attended the event to refresh their knowledge on the destination, exchange ideas and learn about recent developments and upcoming oppor tunities. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Tourism, Commerce and Industry, Joe Natuman opened Tok Tok by reiterating the importance of tourism to the island nation; particularly in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam which left a path of devastation when it smashed into the islands in March last year. “This year’s Tok Tok is testimony to Vanuatu fully recovering from Tropical Cyclone Pam and pushing ahead to recover the lost business,” he said during his opening speech. “Tourism is the main driver of our economy so thank you everyone for coming here as a testament to growing our economy,” he continued. Speaking exclusively to travelbulletin during the expo, Vanuatu Tourism Office’s general manager Linda Kalpoi said she was confident the nation’s tourism numbers would continue to build after the hit taken by the natural disaster. Another thorn in the side for the island nation is the poor condition of Port Vila’s runway which has led to Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia pulling out of flights on several occasions due to safety concerns. “If we did not have the issues with the airport’s runway we would definitely be making the numbers again. I know for sure we would,” Kapoli said. With plans for a full repair of the runway to be carried out by the end of the year and the rebuilding from the Cyclone a success, Kapoli’s outlook is a firmly positive one. “We have had good feedback from wholesalers that are getting back to 2014 levels,” Kalpoi said. Tok Tok 2016 was drawn to a close with traditional performances, a huge buffet dinner and fireworks.