“Today’s tourism industry calls for greater customer service and communication skills for the Pacific Islands to be a preferred destination of choice,” says Evelyn Maseng, Tourism Trainer for the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC), and Vanuatu representative for the 2019 Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellow Program hosted by the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i in the United States.
Evelyn’s insights concluded Vanuatu’s Tok Tok 2019, a week-long premier trade show bringing together tourism operators and international travel providers with the aim of growing tourism in Vanuatu.
“Professional tourism services are key and we must be dedicated to ensuring that each guest and traveller has the best experience possible,” she emphasised. “We need to be prepared to adapt our work styles to fit current standards and requirements and be open to continuous learning.”
For Evelyn, a tourism professional and trainer for the past five years, her first journey beyond Vanuatu to the United States was an eye-opening experience. Selected for the prestigious fellowship program from a pool of tourism professionals from across the Pacific, Evelyn’s dreams of new experiences and enhancing her knowledge came true. With her newfound learning, she is also able to ensure that the training she delivers to her students is current to the wider tourism industry.
Her fellowship, which aims to build professional bonds between industry leaders in the United States and the Pacific, included a one-month placement at the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association in Honolulu, where training is delivered to hotels and resorts to enable them to provide experiences that resonate deeply with local culture and language. The practical experience was capped off with a USA-Asia-Pacific Professional Fellows Congress in Washington D.C.
“The fellowship gave me fresh insights, new analytical perspectives, and practical approaches for building a nascent island tourism sector,” Evelyn said. “I am already applying this in my training classroom, with students from across Vanuatu and the Pacific region, to ensure that our future tourism graduates will be at the cutting edge of the tourism labour market.”
As Evelyn’s tourism students – hailing from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – prepared for their industry work placements earlier this month, she urged them to practice what they have learnt and to treasure their cultural values, as Pacific Island tourism is fundamentally about its peoples and cultures.
“Excellent customer service is based on meeting industry standards when assisting guests with special needs and diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds – this will ensure a memorable experience for everyone,” she said, while speaking to her packed classroom. She reminded her students that tourism is the backbone of most Pacific Island economies and that with excellent tourism services and products, the Pacific will prosper.
Evelyn acknowledged the support from APTC in her professional development endeavours and went on to urge others to reach beyond their comfort zones to grasp new ideas.
“APTC is more than just a training institution. It has done great work to ensure trainers are provided with professional development opportunities, maintain current standards and keep up with industry needs,” she concluded.
Evelyn is one of 23 women trainers at APTC, training students from across the Pacific. She is the second Pacific Island Tourism Professional Fellow from Vanuatu.