16 Feb 2011

Vanuatu chiefs limit Pentecost land dives

4:03 pm on 16 February 2011

The council of chiefs of South Pentecost in Vanuatu, the Malbangbang, has decided there'll be just four nangol, or land-diving, ceremonies for tourists this year.

In a letter to travel and tourist agents, the chairman of the council, Chief Livusbangbang Telkon Watas, says the cuts are an effort to preserve the traditional value of nangol.

This year, the South Pentecost Tourism Council had planned 26 land diving ceremonies for the visitors.

Chief Watas has also told the travel agents that the Malbangbang is the sole custom owner of nangol, and they have to respect its decision.

He also advises that tourists wanting to attend the ceremonies need to obtain tickets in Port Vila.

Chief Watas says any visitor who arrives on the island without the approval of his council will not be allowed to see the nangol.

Tourism industry operators say the decision doesn't make economic sense.