Online Event: Pacific islands’ tourism during COVID-19: Danger or opportunity?

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Pacific nations were quick to act and were among the first in the world to close their borders. As such, most Pacific island nations have avoided widespread transmission of the virus. COVID-19, however, has brought the tourism sector to a halt. The economic and social consequences of this abrupt decline in international tourists has led some to question the merit of Pacific island nations being so dependent on these tourists, and more broadly, the ability of the sector to deliver genuine and lasting sustainable development.

While the pandemic has brought these issues to the fore, they are not new. For many years scholars have argued that the tourism industry is unsustainable, and that tourism has made little lasting impact on improving livelihoods and well-being in the Pacific. Many have called on the sector to use the opportunity presented by COVID-19 to rethink the tourism system to ensure any new investment supports a recovery that delivers long-term benefits.

Join us to hear from industry, business and academic leaders to discuss the impact of and response to COVID-19, and future opportunities for reshaping tourism for Pacific nations. Facilitated by Professor Christopher Fleming, Director of the Griffith Institute for Tourism, the discussion will be broadcast in English, providing first-hand perspectives on current developments that are largely missing from regional media.

Halatoa Fua is the Chief Executive Officer of the Cook Islands Tourism Cooperation and Chairman of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO). As Chair of SPTO his aspirations and vision for SPTO include transforming the organisation to become a global leader in sustainable tourism and to add significant value proposition and purpose to SPTO member countries and private sector members.

Dr Johanna Loehr is a recent graduate whose doctorate focused on destination wide climate change risk reduction in the South Pacific. Dr Loehr works as a sustainability professional and is involved in consulting and research projects for the Griffith Institute for Tourism and the International Water Centre and is part of the ACTNetwork.

Marita Manley is a Director at Talanoa Treks and Talanoa Consulting and has worked in Fiji across agriculture and forestry policy, food security, climate resilience, enterprise development, agribusiness research and sustainable tourism for over 15 years. She is a co-founder of Talanoa Treks, a social enterprise working in partnership with four interior communities in Fiji, the current secretary to the Duavata Sustainable Tourism Collective and management council member of NatureFiji-MareqetiViti.

Elizabeth (Liz) Pechan is founder and co-owner of the multi-award winning, The Havannah Resort on Efate Island, Vanuatu. She has a role in the Tourism Crises Response and Recovery Advisory Committee to support the Department of Tourism in the roll out of the Actions and Activities within the Tourism Crises Response and Recovery Plan.

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