Vanuatu’s Tourism Industry Showing Positive Recovery Signs
Vanuatu’s Tourism Industry
This chapter has reviewed existing literature on cruise ship tourism impacts, followed by a
discussion on resident’s attitudes, perceptions and reactions towards the socio-cultural
impacts of tourism. A review of some of the existing coping strategies is also presented to
establish the context for the findings of this study to be considered.
This chapter has highlighted the lack of research on cruise ship tourism despite it being one of
the fastest growing sectors in tourism. While this situation is beginning to change (Dowling,
2006), much of the earlier research have been done on market research and economic or
environmental impacts studies, but very little socio-economic literature; hence the need for
more studies to be conducted. The chapter also brings to the fore the importance of
understanding resident attitudes and perception towards the impacts of tourism, which in turn
determines or contributes to what strategies they use to deal with the impacts. Dogan’s (1989)
and Ap and Crompton’s (1993) models of resident attitudes and coping strategies were also
discussed to provide a context for assessing how residents cope with cruise ship tourism. Both
models have some similarities and differences, and link with the earlier models of Doxey
(1976) and Butler (1980). In addition, like resort tourism, cruise ship tourism impacts do not
affect everyone equally. Therefore, not everyone employs the same strategies to deal with
tourism. As residents cope with the impacts of cruise ship tourism, it can also creates
consequences, such as empowerment and neo-colonialism.
The next chapter will discuss the research methodology and the rationale for using this
method. It will also introduce the case study site and the limitations to the study.
The previous chapter examined the theoretical background to this research and presented a
critical examination of earlier studies which explored residents’ coping strategies in the face
of tourism. The aim of this chapter is to introduce the case study site and provide a detailed
description and explanation of the specific research method and tools used in this study.
Initially a description and rationale for the site selection is outlined. This is followed by a
discussion on the methodological approach and justification of the research method for the
present study. Then a description of the data collection process and justification for selecting
these tools follows. The limitations and their effect on the present study are also included,
followed by a brief discussion of how the data were analysed. Finally the chapter ends by
summarising the research methods employed in the study.
The field study was conducted in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, between June and July
2006 where I spent six weeks collecting data. Port Vila was selected as the study site for
various reasons. Firstly, cruise ship tourism and tourism in general plays a significant role in
Vanuatu’s economy and being Ni Vanuatu (indigenous), I wanted to do research on a topic
that will contribute both academically to the research on this form of tourism and also to
provide resourceful information for my government. Secondly, the more obvious reasons is
that Port Vila is familiar to me and allows for easy access to the research site and also
acceptance into the setting. The knowledge of Bislama, Vanuatu pidgin and the lingua
franca, allowed me to settle into the setting easily and ensures accessibility to relevant data.
Being indigenous to Vanuatu also reduces any cultural differences or hierarchy that may exist
between the researched and researcher. Thirdly, Vanuatu, especially Port Vila, has always
been a popular cruise destination in the South Pacific when cruises were first introduced over
a century ago. Today Port Vila accounts for over sixty percent of every cruise ship calls to
Vanuatu and has the longest history of cruise ship visits. Fourthly, I chose Port Vila because I
wanted a study site where there is a certainty of at least two or more cruise calls during the
study period to enable me to observe activities taking place and the behaviour of residents and
tourists during a cruise ship visit. Finally, time and resource constraints made it impossible to
conduct this research on another port location in Vanuatu
Data was collected at two main sites: the area between the Mama’s Haus project (including
the Centre Point Market Place) and the Port Vila Market House and at the Port Vila wharf
during cruise ship visits (Figures 1 and 2). Initially, the plan was to collect data only at the
market environs and wharf, but on arrival in Port Vila, I discovered the market vendors had
been relocated to a new site, the Mama’s Haus Project. This is approximately six hundred
metres away from the old site and right beside the seafront. Consequently I decided to gather
data instead between the Port Vila Market House and the Mama’s Haus Project as
it gave me the opportunity to observe the public and tourists who visit these areas.
Most of the traffic of cruise ship tourists is concentrated around the waterfront
These two areas are still within the vicinity of the previous site chosen and are where cruise
ship passengers are likely to come in contact with local residents. This area also
accommodates major businesses providing services for tourists and has seats along the
seafront to relax. Most of the cruise ship tourists’ traffic is concentrated around this area.
The market is chosen as one of the sites because it is not only where local people come to sell
or buy fresh local produce, but also serves as a meeting place for most people who come into
town, either to shop, eat or just meet friends. The Mama’s Haus Project, on the other hand, is
a market stall project built especially to accommodate local women selling their wares to
tourists (Kiwanis, 2006). It was opened during the study period and built as part of the
seafront park beautification programme with the assistance of the New Zealand Agency for
International Development (NZAID), Kiwanis Club (a charitable organisation) and the Port
Vila Municipal Council. Over fifty women and a few men are based in the Mama’ Haus
Project and are charged a small fee of 400vatu (NZ$6) daily to sell their handicrafts.
Some data was also collected at the Centre Point Market Place (Figure 4), another handicraft
centre where market vendors are located. This area too is still within the vicinity of the
chosen study site. The third site where some data was collected was at the Port Vila wharf
with taxi and bus drivers and vendors selling their wares during cruise ship call. Taxis and bus
drivers picked up or dropped off cruise passengers here. Women from Ifira Island and nearby
Pango village also set up their tents and display their products at the wharf during cruise ship
During non cruise ship days, I alternated between making observations and interviews at the
Mama’s Haus Market and the Centre Point Market Place vendors.
To address the research questions, I employed a qualitative research methodology using two
main techniques to collect data: participant observation and interviews. Since this study is an
exploratory study, a qualitative research method was felt the most appropriate method for
collecting data and is particularly useful in a preliminary study such as this. Various scholars
have noted the value of using a qualitative methodology for an exploratory study. According
to Goodson and Phillimore (2004) a qualitative approach offers a great deal of potential in
helping the researcher understand the human dimensions of society, and in tourism this
includes its social and cultural implications.
In addition this approach allows for direct and personal contact with people under study in their own language,
environments and natural
settings, interpreting happenings in terms of the meanings people bring to them, humanising
problems and gaining an emic, or insider’s perspective (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Gillham,
2000; Patton, 2002; Riley, 1990). The flexible nature of a qualitative method also allows for
the gathering of rich information and provides an opportunity to respond to open ended
questions (Bouma, 1996; Creswell, 2003; Gillham, 2000; Jordan & Gibson, 2004).
In addition it permits the collection of rich primary data in a semi-structured way that allows
emergence of new information and provides opportunities for validating or clarifying issues
raised in interviews (Cresswell, 2003). This is important for an exploratory research like this
thesis where the how and why research question are best addressed in a natural setting. In
acknowledgment of this, Marshall and Rossman (1989) also recognise that human actions are
influenced by the physical setting in which they occur therefore, the importance of studying
those behaviours in their real life situations. This allows interaction with research subjects in
their own language, and their own work place or premises they choose. It also captures the
context, personal interpretation and experience of those studied.