LACK of baseline data and robust monitoring systems to measure sustainability are key challenges to sustainable tourism in the Pacific.
And while it is relatively a new concept being adopted and practiced by most island countries, South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) sustainable tourism development manager Christina Leala Gale says the lack of data presented a major challenge on measuring the region’s sustainability.
Ms Gale highlighted this during a recent media roundtable discussion focussed on sustainable tourism attended by Fijian journalists from the print, online, broadcast platforms including social media influencers.
While giving an overview of sustainable tourism in the Pacific, she also stressed the low level of awareness and appreciation of sustainable tourism at all levels and its importance to the region.
“How sustainable is Pacific tourism? We don’t know because we don’t have evidence,” she said.
She said the lack of adequate technical expertise to assist in the planning and development of sustainable forms of tourism also presented a major challenge to the lucrative industry.
This, Ms Gale said included the lack of incentives for private sector investment in sustainable initiatives.
SPTO has placed its focus on raising awareness on sustainable tourism among its member countries, key stakeholders.
It has engaged with a key partner – the media – in hopes of boosting its awareness on sustainability.
Also because of this, SPTO has set up a new division solely focussed on sustainable tourism.
Through this, the organisation seeks to improve and enhance its institutional competence in effectively responding to and addressing regional and global issues on sustainable tourism development.
It will also strengthen the organisation’s capacity in the development and delivery of sustainable tourism programs relevant and beneficial to members and stakeholders.
The new sustainable division also looks at aligning SPTO’s regional sustainable tourism programs with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Pacific Tourism Strategy 2015-2019 and national priorities and plans of its members.
SPTO is an intergovernmental body for tourism marketing and development in the region based only in Suva, Fiji with core areas of focus including marketing, research/statistics and sustainable tourism development.
Its vision is to “Inspire Sustainable Growth and Empower Pacific People” with a mandate of marketing and developing tourism in the South Pacific.
It has 17 Pacific island governments as members including China as a development partner.
[Source: Fiji Times online 25 September 2018]