Vanuatu will use Expo 2020 to build up its trade and investment ties after Covid-19 decimated its tourism industry.
The country, made up of 83 islands, is one of the few in the world to be free of the coronavirus. It is currently rolling out its vaccination campaign to reopen its borders, with more than 70,000 people fully vaccinated.
Vanuatu took its first steps towards rebuilding its tourism industry this week with the first of 154 seasonal workers from the islands, including Tonga and Samoa, taking advantage of a one-way travel bubble with New Zealand.
In Dubai, Vanuatu will promote exports of its produce, including copra, kava, beef, coffee, cocoa, spices and its recent addition of honey.
“Our presence here is to promote clean and green South Pacific - the blue pacific as they're now calling it - and to promote our exports and manufacturing base,” Terry Adlington, acting commissioner general at the Vanuatu Expo pavilion, told The National.
“Unfortunately, we were totally reliant on tourism, which post-Covid-19 has totally failed. So now we have to focus more on exports.
“We're export-focused and we're looking for investment. We're also looking at export markets because we need to maximise every opportunity available for value-addition throughout the islands.”
Vanuatu was scheduled to hold its country day at Expo, but due to the late arrival of most of its delegation — including pavilion commissioner general Joe Pakoa Lui — its day has been postponed until February.
Mr Adlington, managing director of Tanna Coffee in Vanuatu, is part of the initial team in Dubai setting up the pavilion. He said Dubai is his fifth world fairs event.