James Elcocke-Harris of Vanuatu Information Centre (VIS) spoke to Maxmilian Wechsler about the country’s new citizenship by investment program, which offers an honorary second citizenship and passport in a tax-free, British Commonwealth member state, in exchange for a contribution to Vanuatu Government Development Funds
unique as the first and only CIP of its type in the Asia Pacific.
Citizenship is conferred on people who donated US$280,000 (under which a ‘family application’ of up to four can be made) to the country. Successful applicants have the same rights and privileges as a native Vanuatu citizen, except that they cannot stand for government office or get involved in politics in any way. “Vanuatu passport-holders enjoy significant benefits – such as visa-free visa on arrival travel to 127 countries – including the UK, Schengen Europe and Russia, with more countries added each year,” explained Mr Elcocke-Harris.
“VIC has its head office in Port
Vila, with branches in other Asian
capitals, now including Bangkok.
We just opened a fledgeling office
on Sukhumvit Soi 26, and we plan on
expanding in the coming months.
“This is an aviation hub for
Southeast Asia, and so we are
working to establish direct flights
between Port Vila and Bangkok.
It will connect us to China and the
Middle East, and even Europe and
the Americas. A whole new range of
markets will open up.
“Thai nationals don’t need a visa to go
to Vanuatu,” added Mr Elcocke-Harris.
A former British Army Officer, Mr
Elcocke-Harris was appointed by the
government of Vanuatu to represent
and promote its interests under the
“As a small island nation, Vanuatu’s
resources are limited, and their voice
is not very powerful.
“Vanuatu’s principal revenue source
is tourism. We are relatively close to
Australia and New Zealand, so that’s
where most of our tourists come from.”
“Vanuatu is located northeast
from Australia in a little-known
archipelago of 83 islands, 65 of them
populated, spread over a maritime
area of 1,300 kilometres north to
south. The population of 285,000 is
quite dispersed, and this requires a
lot of air connectivity there are a lot of
flights between islands.
“The weather is good all year
round. During the daytime, the
temperature may get up to 28ºC but
not much more than that. At night it
may drop to 20ºC.