28 Dec 2005

Vanuatu bans professionals from filming land diving

8:33 am on 28 December 2005

Vanuatu has banned professional film crews from shooting pictures of land-diving ceremonies on southern Pentecost.

The ritual, known as Nagol, involves young men jumping from wooden towers with semi-elastic vines strapped to their legs, and it's said to have inspired the sport of bungy-jumping.

The director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Ralph Regenvanu, says the filming is eroding the traditional significance of the ceremony.

"A number of film crews from all over the world come, we've have film crews from Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and they all come in to... obviously it's a spectacular event to see, and to film, and the communities have put in place a fee, for filming of the event. But there's been increasing concern at where the money's going, and also the concern about the commercialisation of the event to make it much more concerned about tourists."

Mr Regenvanu says land-divers only used to perform up to three times a year, but now they do it every week there's a tourist flight.

He says tourists will still be able to use camcorders and take photographs.