The release of a new critically acclaimed movie filmed entirely on the island of Tanna is expected to boost interest in travel to Vanuatu as it continues to recover from devastation caused by Cyclone Pam earlier this year.
The tropical storm tore through Vanuatu in March this year, wreaking havoc across the island chain, with Tanna particularly severely hit.
And while tourism numbers to the destination are climbing back up, this film is expected to deliver a much needed boost, particularly thanks to its spectacular cinematography for which it won an award at the Venice Film Festival where it also snared the International Critics’ Week Audience Award for best feature film.
The film, which is the first feature film shot entirely in Vanuatu with all local cast and deep collaboration with the community, is based on a true story about the forbidden love of a young girl who falls for the grandson of her village chief.
“The cinematography of the film beautifully showcases the natural scenery of Tanna from the roaring volcano, which plays its own role within the movie, to the beaches and forests of Tanna. We foresee that this alone will entice travellers to want to visit and see it all for themselves,” Vanuatu Tourism Office’s Australian representative Anne Morris told Travel Weekly.
“However it is the fascinating and unique culture of the Kastom Village of Yakel that is explained so well throughout the story that we expect to intrigue the more intrepid travellers looking to discover a world they may have believed no longer existed.”
Admittedly, damage to the island’s villages and foliage means it no longer looks exactly as it does in the movie which was filmed before the cyclone struck. But Morris expected it to make a full recover, allowing visitors to experience the beauty of the movie.
Travellers are currently encouraged to stay at Tanna’s White Grass Ocean Resort, which is in full operation. Guests that stay at the resort can ask about tours to Yakel village where “Tanna” was filmed. Another popular Tanna property, Friendly Bungalows, is undergoing renovation and will reopen as Friendly Beach at the end of the year.
Overall, Vanuatu has recovered “very well” following the cyclone, according to the tourism office.
“On the main island of Efate, most of the hotels and activities have reopened again, with a couple of properties taking the time to undertake renovations and re-open next year,” Morris said.
But she underlined the role that tourism can play in helping the island nation to rebuild.
“Tourism makes up around 40% of Vanuatu’s economy so it is imperative that tourists return and continue to support Vanuatu’s most important industry,” she said.
“We are seeing visitor numbers increase each month following the dip immediately after the Cyclone and the message to the Australian travel industry is to continue to book Vanuatu as a holiday destination… their clients won’t be disappointed.”
Photo: Paul Forbes (Air Vanuatu), main character ‘Dain’ from the film and Anne Morris, (Vanuatu Tourism Office, Australia).