VANUATU – The latest eruption on Ambae island in Vanuatu produced more ash than last year’s event, volcanologists say. Buildings have collapsed under the weight of the ash which has also contaminated water supplies and killed food crops forcing thousands to leave their villages and seek shelter elsewhere on the island. New Zealand volcanologist, Brad Scott, who has been monitoring of the volcano, said it had undergone three eruption phases since last year and the current one is the worst. “In the first phase the volcanic island was forming in Lake Voui. The second phase was more dominated by lava flows making the island larger and growing what we call a scoria cone. The third phase was more explosive, creating a large crater and that is where the volcanic ash is coming from that is now impacting the people on the island.”
Samoa BANK blocks cryptocurrency
SAMOA – The Central Bank of Samoa (CBS) has issued a directive to all financial institutions to block foreign exchange transactions related to the Onecoin cryptocurrency promotion. The bank said there were still a large number of people wanting to remit or transfer money out of Samoa to invest in Onecoin cryptocurrency, despite warnings that there was a very high risk that the promotion was a pyramid scheme. Under national regulations, people cannot transfer money out of Samoa without the approval of the CBS. Using this law, the bank decided to block all approvals for any transactions relating to the cryptocurrency. This would ensure the protection of Samoa’s foreign currency reserves, which were at risk due to the high number of people wanting to remit money overseas for the “get rich quick scheme”, CBS said. The measure would remain in place until the bank had assessed that there was no longer a risk to the public and the Samoan economy.
INDIGENOUS EXPERIENCES ENCOURAGED
PACIFIC – The head of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation says including local communities and indigenous people is the key to offering unique travel experiences. Christopher Cocker said culture was at the centre of what was on offer in the Pacific and a recent global meeting had emphasised the need for indigenous people to have more of a voice in the way tourism was planned and developed. He said tourists to the region also needed to be encouraged to branch out when they travelled to the region to gain a more authentic experience of the diverse cultures they were visiting. “A Fiji experience or a Cook Island experience is not just lying around in the poolside etc and enjoying cocktails and the sun, sand and sea and watching a one-off show, cultural show, but to go out to the communities, go out to the villages and learn more of what’s happening there as well as mix and mingle with the indigenous people,” Cocker said.