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Old 26-09-2013, 01:39   #1
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Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

We have experienced a 65% reduction in cruising boats visiting since 2010. Pretty sure I know the reason why but would rather hear Pacific cruisers' opinions before launching a campaign to attract boats back again. So, why are boats not coming here anymore?
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Old 26-09-2013, 01:50   #2
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

might be something to do with the $170 check in , out and visa fee?

though,found stern too docking in the marina very reasonable in 2010,cheap fuel,internet,duty free etc offset these costs.

still well worth a stop in port vila,great market,fine beef,good shopping etc
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Old 26-09-2013, 02:30   #3
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Reduction? Wish everywhere worldwide was somewhat reduced so competition came back and destinations had some time to recover.

Was in Vanuatu 25 years ago and loved it and the people.
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Old 26-09-2013, 02:31   #4
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

65% is a huge reduction when the visa renewal fees and their associated bureaucracy were only introduced mid 2011 season, but I can't see any other substantive changes in that time. Fuel and food costs have remained pretty static, a bus ride still costs the same, the place seems just as safe.
I have estimated the reduction in foreign revenue from the cruisers staying away as being about AU$2.8 million without factoring in the social costs of not having the cruisers visit the remote communities.
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Old 26-09-2013, 02:35   #5
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagoon4us View Post
Reduction? Wish everywhere worldwide was somewhat reduced so competition came back and destinations had some time to recover.

Was in Vanuatu 25 years ago and loved it and the people.
I certainly wouldn't want to see us having the same problem as Fiji with their tourist fatigue but I feel Vanuatu can support a hell of a lot more cruisers than are visiting this year. The place is virtually empty. It doesn't affect my business as I am snowed under with local work but I feel for the villages and grass roots businesses that are missing out.
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Old 26-09-2013, 02:38   #6
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

I've been in Vanuatu many times and it is expensive in Port Vila for reprovisioning and fees for just about everything you want to do is not very attractive. The high Quarantine and health fees are one thing but the visa renewal is another...you pay and can get up to 6 months, but only one month at a time.
On the plus side, the moorings are not expensive and the islands and the people are just fantastic. Going north is easy, going south is a PITA.
65% reduction sounds a lot...when I was there in 2010, in July nearly all the moorings were taken, this year its the same....so I don't "see" a huge reduction...
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Old 26-09-2013, 03:00   #7
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

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Originally Posted by Albro359 View Post
I've been in Vanuatu many times and it is expensive in Port Vila for reprovisioning and fees for just about everything you want to do is not very attractive. The high Quarantine and health fees are one thing but the visa renewal is another...you pay and can get up to 6 months, but only one month at a time.
On the plus side, the moorings are not expensive and the islands and the people are just fantastic. Going north is easy, going south is a PITA.
65% reduction sounds a lot...when I was there in 2010, in July nearly all the moorings were taken, this year its the same....so I don't "see" a huge reduction...
Cheers
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The moorings have emptied since the ICA fleet left for New Caledonia. It's not just Port Vila. Oyster Island has had very few boats as has Asanvari and a lot of the more popular anchorages. I travel a lot throughout the outer islands on island traders and all I am seeing this year, just like last year, is a very real absence of yachts. Figures for this year are about 120 boats for the season compared with 340 in 2010.
Everybody seems to accept that Vanuatu is an expensive place to visit but has the increase in Visa fees and the monthly renewal requirement really been the tipping point?
I'm not playing devil's advocate, I really want to know the reasons as I and quite a few others want to lobby for changes. It worked in Fiji so hopefully if government policy is driving cruisers away lobbying will work here as well.
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Old 26-09-2013, 04:36   #8
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoTies View Post
It doesn't affect my business as I am snowed under with local work but I feel for the villages and grass roots businesses that are missing out.
What kind of work do you do there?
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Old 26-09-2013, 05:27   #9
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

For us the answer was malaria. Just not worth the risk.
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Old 26-09-2013, 08:01   #10
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
For us the answer was malaria. Just not worth the risk.
G'Day Evans,

As a person who has spent many months in Malarial areas, and who finds the prospect of sub-Artic cruising terrifying, I'm struck by how differently folks view risks!

Not trying to say that you are at all "wrong", just marveling at the diversity of human nature.

And for the OP: While the costs of paperwork are high compared to, say, New Caledonia, for us it would be the awkwardness of constant demands for visa renewal. If one wants to spend time in Vanuatu away from the "big cities"... say in the Banks or Torres groups, that could be a real PITA. It has been three years since we've been to Vanuatu, and I gather that there have been big changes, and that they are all detrimental to the happy cruiser. I hope that you and others in Vanuatu can act to remediate this trend.

Good luck, and keep us all informed as to progress... and if you should think that an effort to write letters to officials should be mounted amongst the cruising community.

Cheers,

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Old 26-09-2013, 08:50   #11
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoTies View Post
65% is a huge reduction when the visa renewal fees and their associated bureaucracy were only introduced mid 2011 season, but I can't see any other substantive changes in that time. Fuel and food costs have remained pretty static, a bus ride still costs the same, the place seems just as safe.
I have estimated the reduction in foreign revenue from the cruisers staying away as being about AU$2.8 million without factoring in the social costs of not having the cruisers visit the remote communities.

i have crossed the bahamas off my list for this reason. if i have to pay $300 just to stop in for a few weeks, plus docking fees, then there are about 800 other places to visit. so if by the time i arrive in the south pacific in 2015 the fee is not a lot less, i will pass on by.
we are not wealthy cruisers, but i would estimate we will spend about 2-300US at each place we stop for a few weeks.
things that will make us not stop:

high marina fees
zero tolerance for unboard guns
intolerance for vaccinated animals (i do not mind keeping them onboard)
high check in fees
crooked government (more then $10US bribe required for check-in/out)
nasty people.

i very much look forward to the pitcairn islands. and all the south pacific has to offer in the way of low cost visiting.

so here you have one cruisers view.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:01   #12
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

I'd like to add a little to what Jim wrote.

It has seemed to me that the Americans are actually over-fearful about the malaria, or perhaps, just aren't attracted by having to do physical, rather than medicine-basedl prophylaxis.

For all the years we spent going to Vanuatu for up to 3 months at a go, we know only one person from the yachts who got malaria in Vanuatu, and he contracted it in the hospital in Pt. Vila. If you are willing to take the prophylaxis seriously, but not take drugs, reserving them for treatment, here's what we did to avoid malaria: anchor a little over 200 ft. offshore, return to your boat by 4:00 in the afternoon [you can socialize with other yachties then, the deal is to be too far away, where the mozzies can't sense you], sometimes wear long sleeved clothes in light colors, fit screens to keep out mozzies, burn the occasional mozzie coils, and occcasionally wear insect repellent, it isn't hard to avoid malaria.

However, I would also say that 3rd world places like rural Vanuatu are simply not everybody's cup of tea, and that's a difference. Cruisers now are more affluent than 25 yrs. ago, and also, their tastes are different...not all of them, of course. It is just that the world has changed. It is a lot harder today for the middle income person in the US to arrange life so as to buy a boat and go cruising.

As to the reasons to not visit Vanuatu, for Australians, Vanuatu is on the list of places having "bad" termites, and on return to Oz, the skipper may be required to immediately have his boat fumigated. The cost of having the boat tented and fumigated is high, and fear of it would constitute a possible deterrent for the seasonal cruisers from Australia, and so would the increased costs of visiting, IMO. The Louisiades are very popular right now, have been increasing in popularity for the last 15-20 yrs.

A change we saw in Vanuatu was that some of the ni-Vans' expectations increased following cruiser generosity, and some cruisers were turned off by that. IMO that's one of the downsides of following large cruise groups, like Cornell's or the ICA, and also, locals get burned out on cruisers, too. One time someone saying he was the chief's son demanded our jib sheets--a turnoff. Another change in Vanuatu is the visits of cruise ships to outlying areas. Talk about teaching the locals to prey on visitors! By and large, when we were there, the people were wonderful! There were some selfish chiefs, and some ones who really seemed to work for the benefits of their whole tribes, not to only accumulate personal wealth. Very educational all in all.

So, to the OP, it is a complicated issue into which many factors are entwined, and now, would you tell us what you think?

Ann
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:32   #13
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Some comments based on our experiences and those of others we know

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobert View Post
:

high marina fees - Most cruisers spend little to no time in marinas. In fact, once you are just a little off the beaten track there are no marinas to stop at.

zero tolerance for unboard guns - Not suggesting that we start another gun thread, but this could seriously limit where you stop.

intolerance for vaccinated animals (i do not mind keeping them onboard) - We had friends with a lovely dog onboard in the Eastern Caribbean that they did not take ashore. In spite of this they spent almost $2000 on fees for the dog in one winter. Some islands had quarantine requirements, they skipped those, while just about all had vet fees even though they had a dog 'passport' which certified health, vaccinations etc. like guns, you can hide the animal but if you get caught the fines (jail for guns) are likely very high

high check in fees - see below

crooked government (more then $10US bribe required for check-in/out) We have not paid a penny in bribes but we have dispensed a few cookies and had our pictures taken with smiling officials.

i very much look forward to the pitcairn islands. and all the south pacific has to offer in the way of low cost visiting. - South Pacific is not as idyllic as you might think. At Pitcairn you most likely will get them to ferry you to and from shore since the roadstead is very bumpy. This is $50 a time. Landing fee is $35 a person. Unless you are an EU resident, French Polynesia, in addition to customs, health, and immigration fees requires you establish a bond to pay for an air ticket back to your own country for each person onboard -or use an agent and pay something like an insurance fee instead.

so here you have one cruisers view.
A couple of final thoughts to help you in your planning. In many places you go.(assuming you are staying in a marina) you will find it hard to spend $2000 - $3000 in a couple of weeks. There just are not that many opportunities, even if you ate in restaurants every night, exception would be a major tourist destination like Bora Bora where you could find fancy restaurants. If you are shopping at the local market, eating out a few times, travelling on the local buses and having a beer with friends $200 goes a long way. Another exception would be if you can find a secure place for the boat and go touring inland. We did this in Ecuador/Peru, NZ, Oz, and South Africa. We travelled cheaply but did not hesitate when we had the chance to do really special things like sail an America's Cup boat, helicopter to the top of a glacier, or go chasing big animals in SA.

You can't avoid all the expensive (fees) places either because you have to go there or there is a very good reason to go there. Pretty much in order of cost, the most costly places we encountered are Panama, Australia, Galapagos, Bahamas, and Ecuador (mainland which is like a separate country from Galapagos from a fees perspective). All are necessary, or highlights of the trip. Just accept the fact that fees (and bureacracy) are part of the experience, but bribes are not and some other costs will be less than you think. BTW, Bahamas and Vanuatu are both well worth your time.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:58   #14
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobert View Post
i have crossed the bahamas off my list for this reason. if i have to pay $300 just to stop in for a few weeks, plus docking fees, then there are about 800 other places to visit. so if by the time i arrive in the south pacific in 2015 the fee is not a lot less, i will pass on by.
we are not wealthy cruisers, but i would estimate we will spend about 2-300US at each place we stop for a few weeks.
things that will make us not stop:

high marina fees
zero tolerance for unboard guns
intolerance for vaccinated animals (i do not mind keeping them onboard)
high check in fees
crooked government (more then $10US bribe required for check-in/out)
nasty people.

i very much look forward to the pitcairn islands. and all the south pacific has to offer in the way of low cost visiting.

so here you have one cruisers view.
Guess you're going to have to stay in the Keys, scoobert. No, on second thought, the high marina fees will rule the Keys out. You'll have to stay at home as there are few cheap marinas. Your 2-300 dollars you intend to spend every place you stay for a few weeks will not cover a week's marina charges. Wait until you see the Panama Canal charges, or are you going the wrong way around the Horn.

Times change. On our first trip to the Bahamas we paid $10. I think that was for the fishing license as clearing in and out including cruising permit was free. But that was many years ago. Now it's $300 but there seems to be more cruisers there than ever.
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Old 26-09-2013, 11:04   #15
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Re: Reasons not to visit Vanuatu

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobert View Post
i have crossed the bahamas off my list for this reason. if i have to pay $300 just to stop in for a few weeks, plus docking fees, then there are about 800 other places to visit. so if by the time i arrive in the south pacific in 2015 the fee is not a lot less, i will pass on by.
we are not wealthy cruisers, but i would estimate we will spend about 2-300US at each place we stop for a few weeks.
things that will make us not stop:

high marina fees
zero tolerance for unboard guns
intolerance for vaccinated animals (i do not mind keeping them onboard)
high check in fees
crooked government (more then $10US bribe required for check-in/out)
nasty people.

i very much look forward to the pitcairn islands. and all the south pacific has to offer in the way of low cost visiting.

so here you have one cruisers view.
Scoobert, once again you have shown a lack of understanding of the realities of cruising. Addressing your list of things that will keep you from stopping in a potential destination:

High marina fees: In many of the South Pacific nations that folks visit, there are NO marinas to have fees. Where there are marinas, the fees are high enough that your postulated 200 to 300 dollar limits will not keep you in one for more than a week at most (considering the size of your boat).

Zero tolerance for onboard guns: VERY few nations will allow you to keep firearms on board after checking in. ALL of them dislike dealing with firearms, and will load you down with procedural problems if you have them.

Intolerance for vaccinated animals: Most will tolerate such, but there will be clearance fees that will exceed your spending limits all by themselves, and in many places regular inspections of the animals which attracts even more expense.

Crooked governments: We have never even been solicited for bribes in the SP. This does not mean that there are no crooked govs, but the crookedness exists on a much higher level.

Nasty People: A few of those no matter where you go, but not usually a problem unless you yourself have a bad attitude (which tends to bring out the nasty side of folks in response).

And finally, high check-in and other fees: In our years of South Pacific cruising, the only place that we have found with no fees is New Caledonia, *which is kinda odd when you compare them with French Polynesia (another French overseas territory which is expensive and complicated to visit). Every other nation has costs associated with visiting, some higher than others but all of which will seriously dent your proposed budget.

So, it looks to me like you are about to set out on a non-stop circumnavigaton, mate. Your closing statement "so here you have one cruisers view" is wrong... you are NOT a cruiser as yet. Once you become one, if you do, your attitudes will be largely changed, and your list might be changed as well. I wish you luck in making the transition.

Cheers,

Jim

* New Zealand is a possible addition to that group. Clearance inward is free, but Quarantine for animals was very dear a few years ago. My info is somewhat dated, so I can't be sure here.
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