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Thursday, 01 November 2018

Travel Vanuatu: Off the Tourist Trail in the South Pacific Archipelago

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Pacific island nations are a common blind-spot on the holiday destination radar for Europeans. Until recently that part of the world has been prohibitively distant and/or expensive to journey to for many of us who've yet to emigrate to Australia (and some who have).

Well, the times, they are a-changin'. Budget air carriers springing up between Europe and South-East Asia (like Scoot and Finnair) have slashed the cost of a hop over to the Pacific vicinity threefold over the past two-to-three years.

With that said, the next time there's a week to spare, check out Vanuatu.

An archipelago of 83 islands stretched over about 1,300 kilometers and home to roughly 250,000 permanent inhabitants, Vanuatu's capital Port Vila on Efeta island is a mere 3.5 hours flight northeast of Sydney and merits every second of the trip. Tourism comprises a comparatively huge chunk of its economy, yet Vanuatu remains so undiscovered that the numbers of tourists it welcomes currently waver at around 100,000 international arrivals each year. Nestled between Fiji and the Solomon islands, its potential for opening up its tourist industry is among the greatest in the South Pacific and there are many reasons to preempt the rush which is predicted for Vanuatu over the next few years.

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Ni-Vanuatu (the demonym for the local people) without doubt top the list of most open and genuine hosts of any country I have visited. People you've met moments ago converse with the ease and chattiness of old friends, and bypassers stop to redirect lost-looking travelers or check whether you're alright. All this is carried out in French, the actual lingua franca, equally with English and Bislama (a pidgin mix of the two languages, themselves the imprint of colonial rule which continued until 1980) meaning few communication obstacles for the Anglo- or Francophone.

Go in with a readiness to be open, inquisitive and return friendliness, and you'll return with a holiday's worth of fresh, warm interactions, new contacts and friends.

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Last modified on Thursday, 01 November 2018

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