17 Aug 2013

NZ agrees to play lead role in Vanuatu tourism projects

9:37 am on 17 August 2013

New Zealand has answered Vanuatu's request for it to be the chief source of tourism funding for the country.

The Foreign Minister Murray McCully has met the Vanuatu Prime Minister Moana Carcasses in Port Vila and unveiled a plaque to mark the beginning of a new inter-island shipping project.

Alex Perrottet reports from Port Vila.

"Murray McCully made the announcement on the waterfront in Port Vila to delighted local business people and members of Parliament, who had asked New Zealand to take the lead in helping boost Vanuatu's tourism industry. Trade officials say the economy here has slowed and suffered from a lack of investment, and the commitment of 13.7 million US dollars from New Zealand will help tourists get out to remote islands, and improve maritime safety. Moana Carcasses also thanked the Asian Development Bank for partnering in the venture that will also expand shipping services. Local tourist operators were also happy to hear Mr McCully announce New Zealand would foot the bill to help renovate the Port Vila jetty. Linda Kalpoi, the General Manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office, said this will help Vanuatu broaden its tourism options and give confidence to investors. She said she's confident the benefits will go out to reach people at the grassroots."