With the help of the New Zealand government in partnership with the Enhanced Integrated Framework, in September 2017 Vanuatu completed and launched its new seafront development, now an enticing and attractive area for locals and visitors alike.
The mamas’ handicrafts market was rebuilt with added power and internet access and the women are back in the centre of town selling creative artisanal work, brightly coloured dresses and woven bags and baskets from the outer islands.
In the process, they are generating stronger linkages between tourists and Vanuatu-made products and services.
As tourist arrivals increase by a projected 36% and the mamas pivot towards local producers, a supply chain is developing that links the country’s many artisans to eager buyers at the new seafront, with the promise of improving the lives of people way beyond seaside kiosks.
The impact on the lives of ordinary people has been marked, Luen said. He speaks of a highly visible change at least partly owing to the increased income from tourism: new and better houses, schools filling with children and markets, specifically the thriving Port Villa Seafront.
"I see the opportunities that men and women of Vanuatu can do out of the local resources around them. With busy hands, they can create something to help Vanuatu to build its economy."
- Rosalie Vatu
"One of the carvers recently told me that because people see his works on the seafront and are contacting him for orders, he now has enough income to send his daughter to school," Luen said.
In her efforts to better connect local producers with traders, Vatu, who started selling goods to visitors in 2003, is already seeing change.
"[Tourists] are no longer going back to the shops where all the imported products are," she said. "I see the opportunities that men and women of Vanuatu can do out of the local resources around them. With busy hands, they can create something to help Vanuatu to build its economy."