The Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative has made a significant positive impact on Ni Vanuatu throughout Vanuatu’s islands by creating opportunities to support adaptation and diversification through the development of Food Tourism and Agritourism experiences. This initiative is also having positive social, cultural, environmental and health impacts on Ni Vanuatu and further supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.
It was an exciting year for Food Tourism and Agritourism in 2021 with the successful piloting of the now approved Prodaktif Turism Blong Yumi Initiative (Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative) which is funded by the European Development Fund (EDF 11) and supported by a number of key partners. The Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative has now supported the formation of the Vanuatu Agritourism Association and the National Agritourism Committee and the setup of the Vanuatu Agritourism Facebook page with over 10,000 members!Read More
The Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative has been developed in a way to support diversification and protect businesses and Indigenous Ni Vanuatu from the volatility and unpredictability of the tourism industry. Positive outcomes are leading to increased disposable income, access to grants to transition to renewable energy, enhancing preservation of cultural knowledge, promoting more sustainable agricultural practices and decreasing consumption of imported and low nutritional food.
The Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative was successfully piloted in 2021 in all 6 Provinces of Vanuatu to meet activities within theme 3 of the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Strategy (2021-2025). The activities included field work, training and awareness on the concept of food tourism and agritourism experiences and cooking demonstrations to encourage eating local nutrient dense foods and showing innovative and creative ways to serve local food using traditional knowledge as the foundation for creating unique menus. As a result of the piloting of the FTA Initiative, Vanuatu now has 27 agritourism ambassadors with market ready experiences from all 6 Provinces of Vanuatu covering 13 islands.
Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative wins an island innovation award for most transformational government sustainability initiative.
A NEW APPROACH TO FOOD TOURISM AND AGRITOURISM IN VANUATU
The weak linkages between urban tourists and rural communities as revealed in tourism expenditure data was particularly disappointing especially given the degree of dependence of the industry on the stewardship of natural and cultural resources, these resources being key features which draw tourists to Vanuatu. While Vanuatu has had many ‘plans and strategies’ to better link the agriculture and tourism sectors prior to border closures we saw no meaningful advancements in this. Local suppliers actually stated that tourism businesses would always choose price over commitment to buying local produce and value added products even if the quality of local goods was higher.
he Destinations Differentiation research exercise funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in 2019 showed that Vanuatu had no point of difference to other Pacific Island countries and that Vanuatu was mostly seen by key source markets as an all-inclusive resort destination with the key motivating factor to ‘rest and relax’. However, this image was not properly reflecting what Vanuatu has to offer, it also did little to support meaningful participation of communities or sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous people.
The International Visitor Survey in 2019 also showed Vanuatu’s food was rated the least appealing factor to one’s holiday from respondents in key source markets. With suggestions that Vanuatu’s cuisine is often overpriced and consisted of poor quality food that was mostly imported. However, the Department of Tourism acknowledged that policy and strategies could not just focus on the tourism industry to increase the use of local food if their customers were not seeking it out. There was also a significant lack of pride in how Ni Vanuatu people saw their local food and traditional cuisine.
The Food Tourism and Agritourism Initiative took a different approach to applying agritourism than many of its Pacific Island nations who see agritourism as a strategy to supply the larger resorts with local produce. At the core of Food Tourism and Agritourism for Vanuatu is the desire to attract both domestic and international tourists to venture ‘outside’ of main centres and resorts with the intention of visiting primary producers and value-adders for an educational experience and to connect with rural communities and build the potential for farmers and agribusinesses. Educating and promoting Vanuatu’s local food, traditional cuisine, culture, locally made value added products and handicrafts to tourists (both domestic and international) is showing to be an effective strategy to drive the sale of local goods within the tourism industry and restore pride among Indigenous people in their food and farming systems.
WHAT IS FOOD TOURISM AND AGRITOURISM FOR VANUATU?
Food tourism and Agritourism is not your primary business, it is a form of commercial enterprise to attract visitors onto a farm, or agribusiness for the purpose of educating and facilitating a deeper connection to Vanuatu’s productive sector and rural areas. Agritourism experiences can consist of:
- Educational and immersive tours of sustainable, regenerative and traditional farming
- Cooking demonstrations or classes in traditional or local cuisine
- Educational and immersive tours of value addition in local and organic sustainable produce.
Food tourism and Agritourism experiences recognise the importance of traditional gardening systems, organics, traditional food and local cuisine, values the rural smallholder and traditional economy and aligns to the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (2019-2030) and Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Strategy (2021-2025)
FOOD TOURISM AND AGRITOURISM IS SO MUCH MORE THAN TOURISM!
By developing Sustainable Food Tourism and Agritourism experiences Vanuatu can:
• Support food security
• Support the traditional economy and protect traditional knowledge
• Prevent Non-Communicable diseases by promoting healthy local food
• Keep more VATU in Vanuatu
• Provide more meaningful jobs
• Strengthen our rural communities
• And protect and regenerate our environment