Vanuatu is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the Pacific, with tourism a vital contributor to the local economy.
New Zealand is a major donor in this sector to help lift Vanuatu's economic performance, with considerable aid and support administered through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and New Zealand Aid Programme.
Traditionally, cruise ship visitors to Port Vila, Vanuatu, have been greeted by limited public facilities at the wharf and waterfront. Therefore, improving the tourist experience was a key focus of Beca's work to support MFAT on the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project (VTIP).
Our focus was on enhancing urban design and public amenities, emphasising the quality of products and services, and further developing infrastructure in two of Vanuatu’s key tourist precincts. A core theme was preserving public space and access, and avoiding additional commercial operations on public land. Another key goal was to improve coastal resilience of the waterfront and include climate change adaption measures in the design.
Engagement with the community and project stakeholders was critical to the project's success, so we visited Port Vila to meet with government representatives, tour and transport operators, and local businesses. Once armed with local insights, our design options were presented back to stakeholders and their feedback incorporated into the final designs.
Construction is now completed, with Vanuatu’s rejuvenated seafront and portside precincts full of amenities for tourists and locals alike to enjoy, including improved access to the sea. There’s a central pier observation platform, sea steps, a water taxi jetty, seawall promenade and walkways, market buildings, playgrounds, coastal protection and re-nourished beaches, landscaping and artwork.
The new market buildings of the project also instigated a Vanuatu driven criterion, to house stalls which sell only locally made handicraft. Today, the market buildings are contributing positively to the tourist experience, showcasing vibrant traditional culture with sustainable and lasting economic benefits for the community.