I have been in the position of Continental Director for the Pacific Rim now for 2.5 years and it is important for me to try and visit all member countries whilst in my position to see how they operate, hear their concerns and where we as a region can help one another.
So the opportunity to travel to Vanuatu and attend their AGM was the perfect opportunity to see first hand what developments have transpired since the devastating impact that cyclone Pam had on the islands as well as meet with the members of their association.
There are still many signs of the result of the cyclone evident as you drive about the island and it is only recently that some resorts have come back on line. This re-establishing of resorts has had a large impact on the work force within these friendly islands. The tourist numbers have been well down due to the runway at the airport being under development. Only Air Vanuatu is operating with the occasional arrival from Air Nuigini.
What I saw was a rejuvenated population working hard to get their tourism up and running again all with a smile of their face and an optimistic outlook on the future. Ocean liners has become a life line of tourism so more emphasis is being placed on their arrivals until such times as the airport is considered upgraded for other airlines to return to scheduled services.
Like any AGM it is the unknown of who will attend and if anyone is willing to undertake the positions of responsibility to ensure that their Association remains active and productive.
The efforts of Sarah Kymbrekos, Rob Smillie, Roland Cowles and David Holliday have held this association together on a shoe string even though three of these people do not live in Vanuatu any more. But as they all say, “we have put too much effort into getting this association up and running to see it collapse”. It is this professionalism that is kept Vanuatu on track even through the devastation of a major cyclone hit.
So it was exciting to see that over 20 of their members took the effort to attend their AGM and it was even more exciting to see the enthusiasm of the members wanting to step up and get on with show casing their association and support their industry.
They have made great strides over the past 18 months – 2 years and still need the support of the Pacific Region to help grow and show case their lovely island destination.
The Australian Culinary Federation have offered to give support as a close neighbour and with an already established friendship of culinary events and master classes so the new executive will be working closely with the ACF on future events to raise awareness and some much needed funds to get them back on track.
So well done to the Vanuatu Food Handlers and Chefs Association for showing great strength of character and moving forward in a positive nature.
Those who have stepped up to form the new executive give a sense of professional approach and pride in their desire to get things back on track.
It is also worth noting that the entire executive, except for their President David Holliday is an all female group of dedicated professionals with their own businesses within Vanuatu as well as in the education sector.
Congratulations Vanuatu you have taken the right path for continued success.
Murray M Dick, Continental Director- Pacific Rim