Vanuatu faces shortage of workers in tourism sector ahead of border reopening

A labor coalition has been established to address the shortage of skilled workforce in Vanuatu’s tourism and hospitality sector.

The countdown to the border reopening to international travelers on July 1 started after the Government officially announced the date last month.

A challenge for the government and the Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) is the shortage of labor or skilled workers in the tourism sector.

To address this shortage, the Labor Coalition has been formed between the Ministry of Tourism Trade Commerce and Ni-Vanuatu Business (MTTCNVB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOIA) through the collaboration of the Department of Tourism (DoT), Department of Labor. (DOL) and the VTO to work together and facilitate the opportunity for registration and training of ni-Vanuatu into the tourism and hospitality sector for preparation towards the border reopening.

Waterfront at Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu
Photo: RNZ / Sally Round

Geraldine Tari, acting Director of the DOT stated that it is the role of the Office to facilitate the immediate need for restoring excellence of service into the industry as part of being Tourism Ready, addressing the need for recruitment registration and training to prepare workers for the tourism and hospitality industry.

“Over 50 businesses in Port Vila have been certified as ‘Clean Caring and Checked’ under the Safe Business Operations training,” she said.

“It is important that they are being supported with skilful workers to prepare their businesses for border reopening.”

According to the Commissioner of Labor (COL), Murielle Meltenoven, border reopening is everyone’s business.

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Photo: RNZ / Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor

“For the MOIA and Government of Vanuatu, it’s a priority to establish the conditions for a strong domestic labor market that provides good job opportunities for all Ni-Vanuatu citizens during this reopening period,” Meltenoven said.

VTO ​​CEO Adela Issachar Aru said the collaboration with the DOL and the DOT is critical to show commitment to rebuilding the domestic labor market, focusing on the tourism sector with the celebration of International Day in 2022.

“We know that our people are very talented and skilful people,” she said. “In no time we will be able to re-train them and prepare them for welcoming all our international travelers and guests for Answering the Call of Vanuatu.”

“It is our people, custom, and culture that forms the experience of a lifetime, and we cannot wait to deliver this once more to our international guests.

Yachts and tall ships on anchor in Vila bay - Port Vila, Efate island, Vanuatu.

Yachts and tall ships on anchor in Vila bay – Port Vila, Efate island, Vanuatu.
Photo: lkonya / 123RF

“In our preparation and effort to reconnect to the world and to support the Business Houses in Vanuatu, Employment Vanuatu is one of the best solutions to assist the industry with options to recruit the skilled person (s) to work with your company and rebuild our economy, “she said.

Employment Vanuatu, the employment registration portal launched by the DOL in 2021 exists to assist the business sector in its recruitment pool when looking for suitable candidates to work and grow their businesses.

It is anticipated that planning for building Vanuatu’s domestic labor market will be supported through this tool of the Employment Services portal.

To facilitate the smooth processing of tourism and hospitality workers who are both new and experienced, the DOT, in collaboration with the VTO has set up a Tourism Labor Desk to assist interested applicants, as part of its Tourism Ready activities to prepare the industry for the reopening of borders in July.

Blue lagoon in Vanuatu

Blue lagoon in Vanuatu
Photo: RNZ Pacific

The tourism labor desk is supported by the Australian Pacific Technical College (APTC) and the Vanuatu Skills Partnership (VSP) to ensure support is provided as part of the collaboration to develop a skilled labor force for the tourism industry.

The Tourism Labor Desk Officers will be working closely with the DOL to co-ordinate the registration of workers, facilitate training links to training providers and ensure there is a creation of a tourism and hospitality ready-pool workforce.

The Tourism Labor Desk will also work with training partners to monitor the quality of on the job training by the trainers and employees.


Photo: RNZ Pacific

Meanwhile, International Labor Day 2022 also coincided with the VTO’s launch of a series of ten short promotional videos titled “Vanuatu, Yumi Kat Talent,” as part of a national Worker Attraction Campaign.

The campaign aims to invite workers throughout the country to seek job opportunities within the tourism and hospitality sector, as the country is preparing itself for the reopening of the borders.

“We have something for everyone, please apply today,” is the message reiterated by Murielle Meltenoven.

The 10 promotional video series will be shared across various social media platforms to create excitement and provide awareness support to the private sector, to fill their job vacancies with proficient employees who possess the right skill sets.


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