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Another Pacific tourism hub opens

Almost 30 months after closing to the world, Vanuatu will make a confident return on July 1, and will only require a negative RAT test for international travelers.

The government has scrapped quarantine and proof of vaccination requirements, and visitors will only have to log their test results with the destination’s Ministry of Health 24-hours before departure.

Like other Pacific countries, Vanuatu shut borders in March 2020 and is taking a gradual route to economic recovery. Tourism had previously accounted for more than 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and after a painful halt, operators have been training for accreditation to receive visitors and serve the pent-up demand for travel.

“We know demand is there through a range of channels – business travel, visiting friends and relatives, and returning citizens,” confirmed Adela Issachar Aru, CEO of the Vanuatu Tourism Office.

“Throughout the last two years, interest in Vanuatu has remained strong and we are happy with the level of business we are seeing currently. 2020 was set to be one of the best years ever for tourism in Vanuatu and we are confident that we will pick up where we left off.”

Almost 30 months after closing to the world, Vanuatu will make a confident return on July 1, and will only require a negative RAT test for international travellers. Picture: Tourism Vanuatu Facebook

Regional partners like Virgin Australia, Fiji Airways, Air Calin, and other airlines will also be roped in to help grow aviation capacity. On the ground, all tourism-related operators including handicraft vendors and drivers, are required to take a new benchmark of service.

“Our tourism businesses have undertaken a program – Safe Business Operations to keep both customers and staff safe. Our frontline staff also have excellent vaccination rates,” Mrs. Issachar Aru said.

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The SBO program covers enhanced cleaning, personal hygiene, and other protective measures against Covid, with training and audits to accredit compliant operators. They must also be vaccinated and as of May, coverage has reached over 80 percent of the country’s adult population.

Almost 30 months after closing to the world, Vanuatu will make a confident return on July 1, and will only require a negative RAT test for international travellers. Picture: Tourism Vanuatu Facebook

Earlier this month, the government said quarantine would only apply to inbound travelers showing Covid symptoms and that provinces and islands on their Health Recovery Level 1 can receive international visitors.

Celebrations are planned for the country’s full reopening on July 1 and the national carrier, Air Vanuatu is allowing travelers who reserved tickets before borders closed to book new travel dates for free, provided that they travel before the end of 2023. For outbound travelers, the airline has also launched an international flight sale for those departing from the capital Port Vila, Tanna, or Santo, with direct flights to Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne in Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Fiji.

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