Government Initiatives Aim to Boost Vanuatu's Tourism Workforce Amidst Seasonal Work Migration

Vanuatu is confronting a talent exodus as skilled workers from its tourism sector increasingly pursue seasonal work opportunities in Australia and New Zealand. In response, the Government has rolled out new initiatives, aiming to bolster the industry ahead of the anticipated border reopening in July.

In a bid to plug this gap, the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) has introduced initiatives such as job placements in tourism tailored to individuals' educational backgrounds. There's also a push to offer training opportunities for enthusiastic individuals who might lack formal qualifications. Aspiring candidates can currently register at the erstwhile El Gecko restaurant located behind the Island Time Café in Port Vila.

Ali Serhan, the General Manager (GM) of Warwick Le Lagon, has welcomed these government-led efforts. However, he emphasizes that there's a greater need: educating the younger generation about the tourism sector's significance for Vanuatu. He underscores the vast economic contributions of the industry, spanning employment, trade, and overall GDP.

Drawing from his experience in managing Warwick resorts in diverse regions like Lebanon, Jordan, and Fiji, GM Serhan insists on the necessity to cultivate a generation passionate about tourism. Such a generation would understand the sector's pivotal role in national development.

Yet, challenges abound. Many resorts, including Le Lagon, have lost valuable staff to overseas seasonal work. Serhan acknowledges the difficulties in onboarding and training new employees within a limited timeframe before the border reopening. Still, he remains hopeful, pointing out that initial months after reopening might not witness a tourist surge, allowing more preparation time.

The lure of better pay overseas remains the undeniable driving force behind this workforce migration. While tourism has traditionally been a cornerstone of Vanuatu's economy, the lingering question is about its equitable distribution. An anonymous ex-tourism employee highlights the wage disparities, contrasting the meager VT220/hour in Vanuatu with the enticing $25/hour in Australia. Such accounts bring forth pressing questions about the broader economic benefits of tourism and their reach. As the government strives to rejuvenate the tourism sector, these issues demand thorough introspection and action.

The original article can be found on the Vanuatu Daily Post Website:

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Department of Tourism
PMB 9099
George Pompidou Road Port Vila
Phone: (678) 33 400
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