22 OCTOBER 2020
Vanuatu Becomes First Nation in Asia Pacific to Adopt a Well-Being Approach to Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery
The Vanuatu Department of Tourism Joins Forces with Planet Happiness to Measure Well-Being of Ni-Vanuatu Residents
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The Vanuatu Department of Tourism (DoT), and Planet Happiness have partnered to measure the happiness and well-being of residents throughout Vanuatu’s six provinces. 

As part of a long-term partnership, the Happiness Index survey will engage local people and tourism stakeholders to define actions to strengthen destination well-being, moving beyond solely measuring visitor arrivals and contribution to GDP.

The two organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 17th October. The MOU signals their intent to work together to support responsible destination management. 

On signing the MOU, Vanuatu’s Director of Tourism, Mr Jerry Spooner, said: “The collaboration with Planet Happiness meets key objectives set out in our 2019-2030 Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy, which is a call to industry, community and Government to transform our tourism industry from dependence to resilience, and to align with our traditional values. Guided by our Policy, we aim to promote a tourism industry that is ethical, inclusive, cares for all our people, regenerates and protects our environment, customs and culture. The partnership will enhance the resilience of Vanuatu as a destination in the face of climate change and external threats such as COVID 19.” 

With the support of tourism stakeholders and government departments, the Department of Tourism will use the findings of the Happiness Index survey to track tourism’s contribution to Vanuatu’s National Sustainable Development Plan (2016-2030) objectives.

“Annual iterations of the survey will help to measure Vanuatu’s progress in meeting many of the country’s UN Sustainable Development Goals. When integrated with Vanuatu’s Sustainable Tourism Policy, the findings will help build Vanuatu’s position as one the Pacific’s most sustainable destinations,” said Mr Spooner.

According to the Asian Development Bank, in 2018 Vanuatu received just over 358,000 international visitors with air arrivals rising by 4.7% and cruise ship arrivals almost doubling that rate with growth of 9.2%. Slightly more than half of air travellers were from Australia, 13% from New Caledonia, and 12% from New Zealand. In the same year travel and tourism accounted for about 45% of the national economy.

Planet Happiness works with tourism organizations around the world to deploy the Happiness Index. The aim is to support local stakeholders to use the survey findings to design and implement measures to improve the quality of life in host destinations. 

“Planet Happiness helps destinations move beyond a narrow tourism dollar and GDP agenda,” said Dr Paul Rogers, co-founder and director of Planet Happiness. “Vanuatu’s Department of Tourism is promoting responsible, quality tourism objectives through its Sustainable Tourism Policy. We are therefore delighted to help the DoT and Vanuatu’s tourism stakeholders facilitate happiness and well-being for their citizens." 

The Happiness Index is well established as part of a global initiative to measure well-being in tourism destinations linked to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Index has partners in 17 tourism destinations in 13 countries. Indicators include satisfaction with life, access to nature and arts, community engagement, standard of living, life-long learning, and health. 

"Planet Happiness will support Vanuatu’s Department of Tourism by deploying what is perhaps the best, most progressive, adaptable, and easy-to-use Happiness Index survey on the planet," said Laura Musikanski, author, lawyer, and co-founder of Planet Happiness, a project of the Happiness Alliance.

About the Vanuatu Department of Tourism
The Vanuatu Department of Tourism is guided by the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (2019-2030). The vision of the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy is “to protect and celebrate Vanuatu’s unique environment, culture, kastom and people through sustainable and responsible tourism”. This vision is set on core values that lays the new foundational direction for tourism that “embraces the traditional and formal economies; it provides sustainable growth by strengthening national and community resilience with the ultimate goal of delivering equitable economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits for Vanuatu and its people”.

About Planet Happiness
Planet Happiness is a non-profit grass-roots big data project of the Happiness Alliance to introduce happiness and well-being science, policy and practice to local communities, governments at all levels and businesses. Its target audiences and collaborators are individuals, local communities, businesses and governments connected to the travel and tourism industry. Dr Paul Rogers is the co-founder and director of Planet Happiness. He has over 20 years’ experience as a tourism advisor to national and local governments and has worked in more than a dozen countries in Asia, Africa and Australia.

About Happiness Alliance
Since 2010 the Happiness Alliance has provided tools and resources for the Happiness & Well-Being Movement including the Happiness Index. Laura Musikanski is executive director of the Happiness Alliance, a non-profit body. Laura has authored multiple books and articles and is co-author of the Happiness Policy Handbook. She is also a lawyer with an MBA & certificates in environmental management and law from the University of Washington.

Planet Happiness Contact
Dr Paul Rogers, NSW, Australia

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