24 Mar 2016

Top notch loos in Vanuatu village could spark tourism

8:48 am on 24 March 2016

Villagers in the north of Vanuatu's main island Efate are hoping to tap into the tourist dollar that comes in and out of Port Vila with the erection of first world toilet facilities.

Under a partnership with supporters from Australia and North Ringwood Uniting Church in Melbourne, Paunangisu villagers opened a brand new toilet block, which even has its own website.

Robert Latimer, who's based in Melbourne, is involved in the Paunangisu Village Partnership and said the idea is to encourage tourists to make the village a stop-off point.

The new toilet block is opened in Paunangisu village, Efate.

The new toilet block is opened in Paunangisu village, Efate. Photo: bestpublictoilet.org

He said north Efate is a hidden gem but it's hoped the toilet block will help spark tourism and enterprise.

"There's nothing like a sign on the road saying 'best public toilet in the South Pacific' to sort of trigger something in your brain and once you've stopped you've got a chance then to engage and to if you like sell fries with that, whether it's bottled water, or whether it's artefacts or take them on a simple tour."

Robert Latimer said the Ring Road that goes around Efate was meant to spread the wealth out of Port Vila, into the surrounding villages and around the island.

But he said the reality is different.

"I read a study out of Massey University from about three years ago that showed that really a lot of that hasn't happened and it's not going to happen just by accident or by osmosis. They put money into building market stalls along the road but the locals were quoted as saying 'but the buses don't stop and the cars don't stop' and that's really where the money is."