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Vanuatu Leading Real Estate Agency Since 1951

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Vanuatu Data

Population 250,000 (2011)
Capital City Port Vila
Administrative Divisions 6 Provinces (Major cities: Port Vila, Efate & Luganville, Santo)
Official Languages English, French (Local languages and Pidgin (Bishlama) mostly spoken)
Country Size 12,190 sq. km
Population Density 20.8 / sq. km
Climate Tropical
Dominant Ethnic Minorities Europeans, Pacific Islanders (Melanesian)
Dominant Religious Groups Protestants, Catholics
System of Government Parliamentary Republic
Currency Ni-Vanuatu vatu (VUV),1 VUV = 0.011 USD ,1 VUV = 0.072 CNY(February 2012)
CPI 1.2% (Sep 2010 – Sep 2011)
GDP / GDP per capita (2010 nominal) US$0.693 billion / US$2,896.57 (est.)
Literacy Rate 81.3%
Unemployment N/A
Life Expectancy 71 years

Vanuatu at a glance

Vanuatu has an agriculture-dependent economy, with agribusinesses employing most of the population and comprising most its exports.
Vanuatu is a member of the ADB, ACP, IMF, UN, G77 & WTO.
Over half of Vanuatu’s exports go to Thailand, and a quarter to Japan. Its biggest import partners are Australia, Singapore and Japan. A significant proportion of imports also come from China. The majority of the national income is derived from import duties.
Tourism plays an important part in the economy, accounting for around 20% of GDP. With approximately 110,000 international air passengers for 2012 and 113 Cruise ship arrivals already confirmed for 2013.
Vanuatu is a popular destination for offshore banking; being renowned for its discretion and understand tax laws.
Vanuatu has 250 km of paved roads and 3 times as many unpaved. There are no railways in the country.
There are 3 paved runway airports. Bauerfield International Airport provides flights to New Zealand, Australia all major cities , Fiji and New Caledonia and its surrounding islands. There are 6 international carriers using these facilities.

G F C and the aftermath for Vanuatu

In the years leading up to the GFC, Vanuatu was one of the fastest growing Pacific economies; GDP from 2004 to 2008 averaged 6% growth.
Inflation rose from 1.4% to 4.8% throughout the same period.
Vanuatu was generally unaffected by the global crisis. Due to declining external demand, exports contracted in 2009 and GDP growth slowed, to 3.5%. Import volumes continued to rise, widening the current account deficit. Property prices have fallen with residential losing 20/30% as a reflection of the AU & NZ markets however, commercial property has not seen the same decline mainly as a result in Chinese investment.
Exports recovered the following year however and tourist numbers did not falter and will increase in 2013/14
The country’s banking sector was protected from the crisis, having little ties with other international financial systems. Vanuatu does not rely on remittances as much as some of its Pacific island neighbours, which also gave it more cushioning from external conditions.
GDP slowed to about 2.3% in 2010 and the IMF expects it will pick up again in the following years. Inflation has remained at stable levels.

Why Vanuatu?

1 The tropical climate of Vanuatu is warm year-round with good all year round rainfall the average temperatures are between 23c and 27c, there is higher humidity in the summer months.
2 Vanuatu is ranked 6th in Lonely Planet’s top 10 travel destinations for 2011 and has received the title as the happiest place on earth on two separate occasions. Vanuatu’s pristine environment is made up of oceans, waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches tropical forest, open grass land and lagoons. Life is uncomplicated with an opportunity to pursue your own lifestyle unhindered.
3 English is an official language and is widely spoken throughout the country as is French.
4 In recent years the government has implemented measures to make investment and residency in the country easier.
5 Permanent residency options are available, including investor and retirement residencies for foreigners.
6 Vanuatu became a member of the  World Trade Organisation in 2012, which will expand its integration into the international economy.
7 The economy has experienced steady growth for the last several years and demonstrated resilience throughout the GFC.
8 The country’s financial system is known for its offshore banking. Financing for properties and land in Vanuatu can be secured efficiently.  Vatu intrest rates are higher than elsewhere, banks have been known to leaned in foreign currency at comprable rates, providing a income in that rate can be established.
9 Vanuatu has a favourable tax system with no capital gains, income (excluding rental), or annual property tax.
10 Vanuatu enjoy warm relations with is its nieghbours near and far.

Investment Points & Deliberations regarding Vanuatu

There are no provisions for Freehold land in Vanuatu. Land cannot be purchased outright being owned either by the government or a custom owner,  as with most Pacific Nations land can be leased. In Vanuatu these leases are mainly for 75 years (the life of a Coconut tree) a small annual rent is applicable but is in the hundreds of $US per annum.  Leases are renewable before or at the end of the term, on the following bases: 10% of the unimproved value, as estimated by the government valuation department. At this time the annual rent will be negotiated for the term of the lease, on the same basis. These rules apply to everyone regardless of background.
Permanent residency options are available, including retirement and investor residency. An investor residency can last up to 15 years depending on the investment.
Citizenship may be applied for after 10 years of residence in Vanuatu.

Tax Summary

Type Rates Notes & Exemptions
Annual Property Tax N/A N/A
Transfer Tax / Stamp Duty 7% Stamp Duty (5%)& Land Records Fee(2%): Paid by the purchaser on settlement (4% in the case of a property owned by a company)
Capital Gains Tax N/A N/A
Rent Tax 12.5% This is paid on rent received over VUV200,000 in any six month period. All leases have to be registered with the Financial Services Commision.
Income Tax N/A N/A
Value Added Tax 12.5% On all Goods and Services
Import Duties 0-35% This is calculated on the invoice price on landing. There are exemptions, such as goods related to a new resident first moving to Vanuatu.

A Stable Modern Nation

Archaeological evidence supports a commonly held theory that Vanuatu’s prehistory started 4,000 to 6,000 years ago with people who spoke Austronesia languages.  There have been historical remains discovered, including pottery dating back to 1300 BC.  As with many of the very early cultures, what little is known has been derived from oral histories and legends.  Early Vanuatu did have its personalities, one being Roy Mata, a king who had managed to unite half a dozen local tribes in the area; he is buried under a large mound with some of his followers on Hat Island.



The important commercial discovery of Sandalwood by Peter Dillon on the island of Erromango began a rush that ended in 1830 with a feud between imported labour and the indigenous people.  Some 30 years later there was a demand for labour in Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, and the Samoan Islands when, at its height, as many as half the male adult population of several of the islands were working overseas.Espiritu Santo was the first island in the Vanuatu group discovered by Spaniards around the early 1600’s.  Moreover, the Portuguese explorer, Pedro Fernández de Quirós, reported seeing a southern continent.   However, it was not until 1768 that any Europeans returned.  Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French admiral, rediscovered the islands.  The islands were later named by Capt Cook in 1774 (whilst on the first of three Pacific voyages) as the New Hebrides and this name was retained until independence.

Missionaries arrived on the islands and with them came Settlers looking for land on which to establish cotton plantations.  When international cotton prices collapsed, many switched to other crops such as coffee, cocoa, bananas, but the most successful was the coconut palm.  In 1882 the Caledonian Company of the New Hebrides was established, mainly by British subjects from Australia, although this was quickly augmented by French entrepreneurs and by the early 1900’s the French population was double that of the British.

Present day Port Vila on Efate (or Sandwich Island) was originally the municipality of Franceville, established under the loose jurisdiction of a joint Anglo-French naval commission in 1887, during the period when the New Hebrides were a neutral territory.  On August 9, 1889 it declared itself independent under the leadership of mayor/president Ferdinand Chevillard, the aim being to gain basic legal status.  This small community, consisting of about 500 natives and fewer than 50 whites, was the first self-governing nation to practice anti-discrimination.

However, in 1906 there was an accord between France and Great Britain agreeing to jointly administer the islands.  The arrangement was called the British-French Condominium and was a unique form of government, with separate governmental systems that came together only in a joint court.  In 1914 the Condominium’s authority was extended in the Anglo-French Protocol, being formally ratified in 1922. Citizenship was not available to Melanesians from either power leaving them officially stateless; travelling abroad was an issue, as identity document had to be signed by both the British and French resident commissioners.

This form of government continued until the arrival of Americans during World War II with their informal demeanour and relative wealth, this was instrumental in the rise of nationalism in the islands.

It is believed that the central issue of land ownership, which arose during the 1960s gave the final political impetus towards independence.  The Ni-Vanuatu ancient custom that land was held in trust for future generations by the current custodians prevailed; Europeans, who owned about 30% of the land area, viewed it more as a commodity.  By this time the European-held land had been for the greater part cleared for coconut production.  However the plantations began to encroach on land outside their boundaries, protests began in both Santo and Malekula the kustom movement, “Nagriamel”, led by Jimmy Stevens was at the forefront.

Britain’s desire to de-colonize the New Hebrides south of the Solomon Islands around this time was not in line France’s own political strategy and this caused some friction.

In the early 1970s Walter Lini, one of the founders and Anglican Priest (who later became Prime Minister) formed the then called New Hebrides National Party; the first political party.  It was later renamed the Vanua’aku Party in 1974.  By 1975 a Representative Assembly had been created, but was dissolved a few years later after demands for the elimination of government-appointees and immediate independence.  A date for full independence was set in 1979; land in the hands of foreigners was returned and compensation paid by their respective governments in Paris and London.

Since independence, only the government (in selected areas, usually municipalities) and kastom owners can own land.  There is a lease system in place for foreigners and other islanders, who are not kastom owners.  Ironically, the term of a lease is normally the productive life of a coconut tree, which is 75 years..

A Bright and Prosperous Future

Work on building and upgrading the round island ring road on Efate, the principal island of Vanuatu where the capital Port Vila is located, is well underway. This has had a positive effect already on those living on the northern part of the island as well as those who would now choose to live in these idyllic surroundings.

The new Port Facility is taking shape down on Wharf road this is yet another much need project that will more than double the capacity transforming Port Vila and Vanuatu in general.

The Vanuatu Government has taken the lead; aware of its responsibilities it has undertaken an initiative in conjunction with the private sector and created a “think tank” already streamlining bureaucracy and taking positive steps to fast track over-seas investments.

Yet to be discovered, Vanuatu with its cosmopolitan, French – English influences is considered to be the ‘jewel of the Pacific’ in time these Islands will be an amazing place to live.

A number of new air routes have been opened but Airlines have struggled over 2009 to maintain the seat numbers. The Vanuatu Government has helped in some cases by subsidising flights to those airfields where numbers have dropped off significantly.




Vanuatu was voted the happiest country in the Happy Planet Index of 2006. You can see why Ni-Vanuatu are the happiest people on earth from their friendly smiles. It’s understandable the influx of more businesses is creating competition and there have been some notable price adjustments in the shops.

The Vanuatu Government has placed tourism as a high priority in its development strategy and has incentives in place to encourage growth. Exciting times are ahead indeed for the tourism sector. With in excess of a thousand beds, new golfing facilities and plans to develop parts of the waterfront on the not to distant horizon, it is hoped that the focus will turn towards attracting and sustain visitors with a profile that will be able to significantly add to the economy.

These positive steps will have a knock on effect in the areas of property investment. Vanuatu is entering an exciting new phase in its development and local residents did noticed, that despite the world financial issues property prices remained relatively steady throughout 2009. The first quarter of 2010 has seen a significant change in the market, driven by those wishing to take advantage of lower prices else where in the world, being prepared to meet the market to achieve a sale. Recent sales have been brisk, motivated by investors looking to take advantage of distressed or realistic vendors in this market; cheap money from the USA and other rebounding nations has made it easy for those that have access to these funds. The visitor statistics confirm that there are noteworthy numbers of “ordinary folk” itching to break away from the constraints of Vanuatu’s larger neighbours; it’s just a matter of time before their present markets will allow them to go liquid and relocate. This is a belief held by the education sector, already under pressure to supply adequate services for the present expat population and bracing itself, expecting the numbers of international students to double in the next 3 years.

Vanuatu is ready for the large retiring baby boomer population of our Neighbours Australia and New Zealand with developers including private hospitals and clinics in their new projects. Those looking for a new ’second home’ in the relatively warmer, safer and less constraint south Pacific will eventually see Vanuatu as a place to retire. Australia being just a short 2 ½ hour flight away has been the deciding factor for retiring baby boomers to purchase either “lock up and walk away” or “self funding homes” and invest in Vanuatu. Their families and friends can visit more readily and at a more competitive price than many of their counterparts that have chosen to relocated to the warmer parts of there respective countries. With the increase in the standard of retail outlets the CBD, initially driven by the 180 visiting cruise ships in 2010, that these Baby boomers’” with their significant spending power and ample time on their hands will have a huge impact on the local economy.

What is still making Vanuatu so attractive to retirees is the absence of some Taxes. By opting for a system of indirect taxation, No Income Taxes has meant less bureaucracy, less annoying paper work, an absence of annoying tax collectors and most importantly its related stress. It means all accumulated wealth is not subject to any form of Income Tax. This means that those opting for Vanuatu as their retirement choice will enjoy a better quality of life. Now you’re talking Lifestyle.

Vanuatu offers the possibility of purchasing waterfront lease-hold land, only minutes from the CBD for a fraction of that spent in countries like Australia. Building costs are comparable to those in other countries, so the exercise of purchasing land and building the home of your dreams can very easily be a reality. With the recent introduction of Strata Title Legislation and its associated regulations the real estate market is poised for a sharp rise as developers open up more opportunities in the commercialisation of property .

Vanuatu is poised ready to take advantage of its location and unrivalled position, the future for these Islands and this unshackled nation is one of prosperity and growth.


Progress Update



Concept, preliminary and detailed design plans were prepared between 2012 and 2014. A range of consultation activities were undertaken with Government of Vanuatu (GoV), key stakeholders and the public to develop the final design.

An open public tender process commenced on 13th March and closed on 8th May 2015. Tenders were received from companies based in Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand.

The Tender Evaluation Panel, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU), the Vanuatu Project Management Unit (VPMU), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT) and Beca International Consultants Ltd (Beca) as the Engineer. All tenders were assessed by the panel in-accordance with the assessment criteria set out in the tender documents, which included quality and value for money attributes, and a recommendation was provided to GoV.

Hawkins Infrastructure Ltd (Hawkins) were the highest scoring tenderer on all three contracts. Therefore, the Government of Vanuatu awarded all three contracts to Hawkins. The three contracts have been combined into one contract with separable portions for each area of work.

An official project launching ceremony was held on 28th August 2015 at the seafront stage.

Public Health and Safety


Sections of the Seafront Park and Fatumaru Bay Park will be closed off with security fencing and inaccessible during construction. Temporary relocation of some businesses operating within the park and adjacent marine areas will be required to allow construction works to be completed.

Temporary disruption as a result of construction works is expected. This will mainly relate to additional construction traffic, noise from construction machinery, restricted access to car parking or pontoon facilities and limited access to the park and seawall.

Existing public toilet facilities between Nambawan Cafe and La Tentation will be demolished and new facilities built. The public toilets will be temporarily unavailable during construction.

Work Expected This Month


An instruction will be given to Hawkins to commence works once GoV have obtained all necessary approvals and land ownership agreements. Duration of construction works is 15 months.

Planning for the works will commence this month and Hawkins will prepare a methodology and program for undertaking the works.

Public health & safety, traffic and environmental management procedures will be developed by Hawkins and reviewed by the Engineer to comply with conditions of approvals that have been granted for the works.

Discussions with key stakeholders will be required to review the proposed programme of works and minimise or manage potential impacts on businesses.

Temporary offices for the Contractor (Hawkins) and the Engineer’s (Beca) staff will be established in close proximity to the site.

Hawkins will make arrangements this month to mobilise staff, procure materials and deliver equipment to site.

Newsletter October 2015


Progress Update

A project launching ceremony was held on 28th August 2015 at the seafront stage as part of the annual Vanuatu National Trade Fair. Dignitaries from GoV, NZ MFAT and EIF attended.

A custom ceremony was performed during the project launching. A traditional offering of food, pigs and mats was handed over to the Chief of Ifira, representing the customary land owners.

Contract documents were formally signed by the Minister of MIPU on 3rd Sept 2015.

GoV have obtained the necessary environmental approvals and resource consents for the works. A few land ownership and tenancy agreements are stillin progress and are expected to be finalized shortly.

Hawkins Infrastructure Ltd (Hawkins), the company contracted to do the construction work,took possession of the site from Mon 14th Sept 2015.

The 15 month contract period has officially commenced and Hawkins are due to complete construction works by the end of 2016.

Planning for the works has started. Hawkins haveprepared aprogrammeof works, qualitymanagement plan and construction environmentalmanagement plan. These documents are being reviewed by the Engineer (Beca) and will be submitted to relevant GoV authorities for approval as required.

Works Expected This Month

Hawkins are preparing a staging plan showing the order in which works will be carried out.Public health & safety and traffic management procedures are a key part of planning the works.

Discussions will be held with key stakeholders, and their input will be required to finalize the proposed plan of works and minimise or manage potential impacts on businesses.

Work method statements for specific activities are also required prior to commencing works on site.These will be reviewed by the Engineer (Beca).

Project offices for the Contractor (Hawkins)and the Engineer’s (Beca) staff are being established in close proximity to the site.

Susan Temple has been appointed as the Project Engineer and two local engineering staff have been recruited.Other projectpositions are being sought.Please contactHawkins directly for further information(Tony Dunk – t.dunk@hawkins.co.nz).

Public Health & Safety

Sections of the Seafront Park and Fatumaru Bay Park will be closed off with security fencing and inaccessible during construction.

ThePort Vila Municipal Council (PVMC)has restricted the use ofthe Seafront Park and stage area for events and activities. Please contact the PVMC prior to planning any events at the seafront.

Carpark areas near the seafront will need to be closed during construction. These areas will be used for construction machineryto access to the site.

This will affect:

Carparks behind Health wise Pharmacy (between Nambawan Café and La Tentation).

Carparks in George Kalsakau Drive (the road extending from behind Barrett & Partners House to Jill’s Café)

Work Commences on Promenade Service Road



On 4th March 2016 works commenced on rebuilding of George Kalsakau Drive (GKD); designed by BECA as part of the Vanuatu Tourism Infrastructure Project (VTIP) completion of design and management is being delivered by the Port Vila Urban Devel-opment Project, through the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU), The Vanuatu Pro-ject Management Unit (VPMU) and the design and supervision consult-ants, Roughton International

The construction contract was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). CCECC is recently making good progress with boxing out of the pavement for base material in preparation for surfacing the 301 metres of George Kalsakau Drive with concrete.

Completion of works for GKD is expected by June 2016.



Progress Update


Phase one roads and drainage will involve 13 km of improved, sealed roads and 7 km of improved drainage and associated Public Access Areas (PAA) including sediment and pollutant traps and im-proved drainage at strategic points as well as improved footpaths, street lighting and signage. The contract has been awarded to RMS Engineering and Construction Ltd. with works scheduled to commence 10th April 2016 along the Kumul Highway (formerly Lini Highway)starting near Tagabe Bridge area.

Works are expected to run through December 2017 and bring improved roads and drainage to many flood prone areas of Port Vila.


VPMU and Public Works Department would ask business owners, drivers and the public to respect works signage and follow all safety instructions. The project will make every effort to minimize in-convenience and keep public and private sectors informed of works plans.



Sewage Treatment Plant


Government of Vanuatu is working with Australian AID and ADB to improve sanitation in Port Vila through proper disposal and treatment of sludge from domestic and com-

mercial septic tanks. PVUDP is undertaking the design and construction of a new sludge (septage) treatment plant (STP) and disposal facility.

The facility has been de-signed by Roughton Inter-national and will be located adjacent to the Bouffa landfill site and operated by Port Vila Municipal Council (PVMC). The construction contract has been awarded to Downer, a locally based firm which includes Downer New Zealand Limited and Downer EDI Engineering Limited. Works will commence at the end of March 2016 and completion of the project is expected September 2016.


VTIP update for Aug 2016


Port Vila Promenade Progress report published to the VANUATU TOURISM INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT update for Aug 2016.

The goal of the VTIP is to encourage tourists and locals to use and enjoy the Port Vila Portside and Seafront precincts – including Fatumaru Bay Park. One key feature of the VTIP is the 1.2km pedestrian promenade from the Port Vila Market House, along the seafront, past La Tentation restaurant, Fung Kuei and the Anchor Inn carpark and into Fatumaru Bay Park to Chantilly’s Hotel.

The VTIP will provide clear meandering pathways for people to move along Fatumaru Bay Park and then onto a 4.5m wide concrete promenade that will enable pedestrians to walk right through to the Fruit and Vegetable Market House along the sea front.

The design of the promenade is to reflect a pandanus woven mat with a subtle alternating colour and feel of the pavement segments. Pedestrians will get to enjoy the open park spaces with additional seating and lighting at regular intervals along the promenade and in the parks.

The park works, in particular at Fatumaru Bay Park will include a range of local trees and shrubs grown in Vanuatu, picnic tables, a new playground, improved beach areas and rock pools close to the shore.


 Scope of Work Chantilly’s to Anchor Inn: Upgrade to Fatumaru Bay Park open spaces and provide access to the water.

 Upgrade landscaping, lighting, furniture and playground.

 Protect the coastal edge with a rock revetment to minimise erosion.

 Resurfacing carpark opposite TVL House.

 Improved drainage through the park.


 Progress Update Continue Rock Revetment for Phase 3 & 4.

 Commence landscaping in Phase 1, 2 & 3.

 Sea Access Steps (#2) progressing.

 Sea Access Steps (#3) foundations underway.

 Electrical caballing installation (phase 1-5) complete.

 Footpath in Phase 1 & 2 complete.

 Park seat and table foundations complete in Phase 1.

 Half of TVL Car park closed in preparation for set out.


 Works Expected This Month Continuation of rock deliveries and placement of rock revetment for Phase 4.

 Park works for Phase 1- 3 continue – ground profiling, landscaping and garden construction.

 Silt protection installed in Phase 5


Click on image to enlarge.







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