Pacific Islands Tackle Sustainable Tourism Development

PHOTO: Delegates that attended UNESCO’s Roundtable On Building Sustainable Tourism For Green/Blue Livelihoods In Pacific Island Countries & Territories.

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 02 SEPTEMBER 2018: Representatives from the Pacific island tourism industries are in Samoa this week looking at taking further steps to ensure sustainable tourism development.

The week’s high level meetings started yesterday with the UNESCO Roundtable On Building Sustainable Tourism For Green/Blue Livelihoods In Pacific Island Countries & Territories.

The Roundtable discussion coincides with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Board of Directors & Council of Tourism Ministers Meeting later this week on the theme Protecting our Blue Pacific, Our Livelihood & Our Home.  

The UNESCO Roundtable shared innovated ideas on how to develop tourism in a sustainable manner.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, UNESCO’s Regional Director, Ms. Nisha said making tourism sustainable is a joint endeavour involving Non-Government Organisations, employers and Government.

“This needs the right policy, the right execution, non-exploitation of the community and workers as well as certain other ways of tourism that brings negative attitude to society.”

She said all those need to be pre-empted and planned and can be related to the environment or social changes, but these issues require both consideration from both organisations with UNESCO on a standard basis.

Ms. Nisha of Unesco and Chris Cocker of SPTO sealing the partnership between the two orgaisations in Apia yesterday

SPTO in collaboration with its members is working towards achieving sustainable economic growth that empowers Pacific people.

SPTO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Christopher Cocker said the Roundtable is a good starting point for meaningful deliberations on how stakeholders in the national and regional tourism industries address issues pertaining to Pacific people, cultures and pristine environment – “that is our home.”

“These are our greatest assets that we should protect and cherish for future generations. It is our source of livelihood,” said Cocker.

He believes that without these assets, there is no tourism in the Pacific.

“The tourism industry is growing. However our culture and environment which bring visitors to our shores are at risk from the effects of climate change, modernization and human induced hazards. Let’s work together to ensure that we address and mitigate these risks.”

The Roundtable was an opportunity for members to reflect and hear from various speakers on how their organisations and businesses are implementing strategies that integrate sustainable tourism and culture that contribute to sustainable economic growth.

Acting Prime Minister Leao Dr. Talalelei Tuitama pointed out the importance of finding solutions to this growing dilemma and is confident that with all the experts from the Pacific participating, a favourable outcome is expected.

Ms. Nisha and Cocker then proceeded in signing a Letter of Intent to seal SPTO and UNESCO’s partnership.