Local businesses discuss economic crisis, tourism, taxation, security with PM

Reopening soon… Iririki Island Resort

Reopening this week: Iririki Island Resort

The Council of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) met with PM Salwai recently to discuss major issues facing them currently and hear the Government’s views on the same, and of course Bauerfield topped the Chamber’s list. VCCI acknowledged the work being done on the damaged runway. They were anxious to know whether the runway would be upgraded to Code E to enable larger passenger aircraft to land. The answer to that is not yet available. Tourism has suffered during the renovation period, intended to be completed today. Hoteliers met recently with Deputy PM/Tourism Minister Natuman to discuss how industry stakeholders might work together to bring it back up again. Room rates have dropped significantly for some hotels and resorts and Minister Natuman is hoping to have Air Vanuatu reduce airfares to encourage tourists to come. Pekoa airport on Santo was another tourism-related topic discussed with the PM and the VCCI heard that land acquisition will be needed to enable extensions. On a positive note, Iririki Island Resort is re-opening this week, but this was not on the agenda of the VCCI.

The review of taxation might be thought of greatest interest to investors of the VCCI in a meeting essentially concerned with the economic crisis. They had many questions. However, they were told they must still await the Government’s crisis management plan on which a tax review team is making contributions.

Security is also important to investors, and they are promised a major review of the Police Act. The Government is committed to it as a means to upgrade the force. PM Salwai stressed the need for the Port Vila Efate Land Transport Association and the Cruise Tourism Committee to be actively involved in implementing the security plans for cruise ship days.

VCCI says “No” to the fishery opening at Blacksands, for the usual reasons. None of us want a new disaster after the airport runway matter, they say. No. However the fishery is there: wharfage is now the question. And an EIA for it.