I was driving from Erakor (suburb of Port Vila) back to the main artery when an oncoming cavalcade of decorated vehicles forced me to the side of the road.
All traffic going the same way as me halted while the long train of cars and trucks filled with revellers waving coloured flags, palm branches, and blowing horns, passed by. Most of the vehicles also tooted their horns almost continuously. The joy on the faces of the riders was clear.
What had happened?
The local Erakor football club had won some fairly major game (You can see I don't actually follow football, or I would know what the game was.)
Yes, the Ni-Vanuatu people are often fanatical about sports. Whether it's football, cricket, volleyball, basketball, tennis, archery, wrestling, swimming, boat racing: they not only enjoy watching it, they are often very good.
Before the pandemic, when international sporting events were regularly held, Vanuatu teams often reached the finals. The local Volleyball girls for example have gained international recognition by distinguishing themselves against even large countries like Brazil.
The Korman Stadium in Port Vila has a good running track, heaps of tennis courts, a giant building for indoor basketball, an area especially set aside for archery and so on. It was built only a few years ago for when Vanuatu hosted the Pacific Games. They welcomed competitors and spectators from many countries.
It was interesting at the time to watch the preparations. The Vanuatu leaders turned it into a giant Public Relations exercise.
A huge army of host personnel was trained to make sure the visitors all went home with a good impression. Even bus drivers were brought together and trained in hospitality procedures to ensure their already good interactions with tourists would be stepped up a level as Vanuatu was on show to the world.
The whole population of Vanuatu became a sort of defacto welcoming committee. It was impressed on them that every small interaction with one of the visiting players, support staff, or spectators could be something they would talk about when the thousands of visitors returned to their home countries.
This level of organisation is possible in a small country - Vanuatu has only a little over 300,000 people in the whole of its 83 islands.
And it's also a reflection of the insight and wisdom the local leaders often display. They KNOW it's a small country, and to get ahead in this world it has to find points of differentiation and capitalise on them.
This kind of thinking is what led them to implement the only Citizenship By Investment programme in the southern hemisphere - and the only one in the South Pacific.
It's attractive to people around the world because a Vanuatu Passport is such a good travel document, giving access to the European Schengen countries for example. As a Commonwealth country the passport gives easier access to the rest of the Commonwealth countries. Over 125 countries in all can be visited with no visa or a "visa on arrival."
And if the new Citizen optionally chooses to visit and invest or live here, it's not hard to take living in a tropical paradise where the natural friendliness and courtesy of the people has been further enganced by all that training for the Pacific Games!
If it's your thing, there are plenty of sporting clubs of all kinds.
Getting a second citizenship here starts with booking a consultation: https∶//in.vu/cal
Lance in (sporty) Vanuatu