Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Vanuatu Tourism Office’s Paul Pio

This week, Travel Weekly caught up with Vanuatu Tourism Office’s short-haul markets manager, Paul Pio, to find out how he’s been faring since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

What are you reading?

Nothing in particular at this time, but I am constantly reading online news about our regional market updates on what other countries do to tackle COVID-19 and their plan to safely reopen borders.

What are you watching?

The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

What are you listening to?

Mariah Carey’s 90s classics.

What are you cooking?

Spaghetti bolognese.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

I swim. I am lucky to live by the beach, so I get to enjoy the view, the serenity and the ocean every day.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

The resilience of the people of Vanuatu. With the border closure and the downturn in tourism, people have had to adapt their lifestyles and be innovative on how to sustain their livelihood.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

That I am my own person, and to never limit myself to what others think or say about me.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

The ongoing situation is frustrating and everyone faces different levels of hardships depending on their personal circumstances.

Please get vaccinated! This is our ticket to safely reopen our borders in the future and to save our industry.

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

My most recent domestic travel trip was to Vanua Lava, an island located in the northern province of Vanuatu, less than an hour flight from Luganville, the second-largest town in Vanuatu.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

I often reminisce about my travel to Taiwan, which I came back from before the borders were closed in 2020. The genuine hospitality of the people of Taiwan and the protection of their native culture and environment, coupled with their technological advancement, is a model that I hope other countries could follow.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

Probably to Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia (our main tourism source markets) to reconnect with our trade partners and to start rebuilding our tourism visitor numbers.


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