Public transport operators in Vanuatu want level playing field
Public transport operators in Vanuatu are calling for equal access to tourists on board cruise ships which frequent the capital Port Vila.
Public transport operators in Vanuatu are calling for equal access to tourists arriving on cruise ships in the capital Port Vila.
In recent months there have been fights between tour operators and public transport providers at the main wharf.
In one case stones were thrown at a tour bus, while a woman who criticised the behaviour was abducted and assaulted.
Koroi Hawkins with this report,
The president of the Port Vila Efate Land Transport Association says under the current set up most cruise ship operators already have arrangements made for transport, using established tour operators..
Donald Massing Satungia says all his members want is a neutral body managing access to the tourists.
"The issue is we just need a fair business sharing, a neutral body that will look after the inbound in Vanuatu so maybe we will look in the future that the department of tourism will be in charge of the inbound for the tourism sector."
The future Mr Satungia is referring to will come in 2018 with the scheduled completion of a new wharf complex and the possible transfer of the management of all inbound cruises to Tourism Vanuatu.
But a medium term solution is also in the pipeline.
The vice president of the Port Vila Cruise Tourism Committee, John Tonner says they are just waiting on government to endorse a new set of regulations for the industry.
"What it hopes to achieve is a structured operational format for traffic management and market vendors on cruise ship days and at the moment all stake holders are on board and very supportive. It is accountability, traceability and responsibility."
Police in Port Vila have now taken steps to try and maintain order by increasing their presence at the wharf area.
Adventures in Paradise operator Adrian Mooney says this has proved effective and for now it is business as usual.
"Thankfully the government and the wharf authorities and the police have responded very positively and have kept control over activities at the wharf so things are going very smoothly I must admit and that is mainly in part to some strong leadership from government and also within the land transport organisation."
Meanwhile tourism numbers remain down across the board in Vanuatu with the ongoing suspension of flights from Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia due to the safety concerns they had raised over the state of the runway at the country's main airport.
A repair job on the runway is nearing completion and it should be done by the end of next week.
This week dozens of businesses in Port Vila signed a petition calling on the government to speed up the runway repairs and to grant Valued Added Tax exemptions up until May.
The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce says it is a dire situation for tourism in the country which is still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam last year.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: