Inter-island trading in the tourism sector is becoming a reality through the handicraft sector.

The islands of Vanuatu establishing trade relations with each other is one of the things the Government, through the Department of Industry and Business Development, wants to see happen.

Just recently, some women doing handicraft business from Malekula in Malampa Province went to Aneityum in Tafea Province, to sell their products to cruise ship vendors of Mystery Island.

They sold a variety of baskets, shell necklaces and carved jewellery.

These women are members of the Malampa Handicraft Centre on Malekula.

Their product were well received by cruise vendors on Mystery Island who have requested more stock.

The trade was made possible through the Vanuatu Skills Partnership (TVET), focusing on the tourist souvenir market.

The activity introduced local items fromMalampa where there is less tourism compared to Mystery Island, one of Vanuatu’s largest cruise tourist markets.

The Australian Government-funded TVET Program in Vanuatu believes the handicraft sector has potential to drive economic growth.

“A strong economy has local economic products.

“Locals must recognize the importance of replacing imported products with locally made products,” a statement from TVET said.

The TVET Skills for Handicraft Coordinator, Nicky Barners, said: “The recent wholesale does not only benefit Malampa women producers but also vendors in Mystery Island.

“It helps keep local products alive.

“Observations from the Aneityum community revealed that tourists are afraid to purchase local handicrafts for fear of confiscation at customs when returning to their home.

“In Australia, most clean pandanus products and many carvings can be approved by customs.

“This information is not yet known to international travellers.” Vanuatu Skills Partnership will continue to make awareness to boost rural local handicraft production and support income generating activities for the development of each province.

Awareness have begun in Torba province to get people there engage in the handicraft sector, begin production and export to other provinces too.

Locals are advised to appreciate local producers and buy their products.

The Department of Industry encourages similar trade across all islands with specific focus on supplying to the main tourism centres of Port Vila, Santo, Tanna and Mystery Island.