Government action required to ensure tourism sustainability

THURSDAY – 23 AUGUST 2018: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warns that continued tourism growth in Samoa is not inevitable and government action is required to ensure sustainability and maximize benefits. Tourist arrivals in Samoa grew by almost one-third and reached 134,000 in the 10 years from 2005 to 2015.

The ADB latest brief, Tourism as a Driver of Growth in the Pacific: A Pathway to Growth and Prosperity for Pacific Island Countries, identifies tourism as a unique opportunity for economic growth in the coming decade that could help Pacific island countries self-sufficiently fund national objectives, such as improved health services, education and transport. Along with generating employment and income growth across the economy, tourism development can serve as a catalyst for the protection and preservation of natural and cultural assets, the brief notes.

For Samoa, the brief suggests that more training and education services could increase the proportion of tourism jobs filled by locals, and potentially see Samoa provide tourism staff for other Pacific countries. The brief also highlights the importance of the planned waterfront development in Apia as a means to attract both visitors and locals to the area. It also says Samoa could be part of a regional brand-building exercise to raise the global profile of Pacific tourism and help attract niche markets by identifying and highlighting the region’s unique attractions and natural beauty.

Visitor numbers across six Pacific countries examined have increased by almost 50% in the past 10 years, but the brief warns that continued tourism sector growth will not happen automatically, and that its benefits will continue to be unevenly distributed unless governments take action.

The brief recommends countries create an enabling environment to facilitate tourism growth and maximize its benefits. This means investing in infrastructure, human resources, and product development and marketing, as well as ensuring that tourism policy, strategy, and the regulatory environment are designed to grow the sector sustainably.

“While many Pacific countries are using tourism effectively to generate income and employment, opportunities exist to expand and increase its benefits and ensure its sustainability,” said Rob Jauncey, Regional Advisor with ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office. “As Pacific countries develop and pursue strategies to grow their tourism sectors, ADB stands ready to offer insight and advice, and provide technical assistance, finance, or coordination support.”

The brief was produced by ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), a regional technical assistance program undertaken in partnership with the governments of Australia and New Zealand. PSDI works with ADB’s 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and to support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth. It has operated in the region for 11 years and assisted with more than 300 reforms.