Warm Pacific Greetings from SPTO!
As the CEO of the Pacific Tourism Organisation, representing 20 Pacific Islands, of whom I am proud to be an ambassador, it gives me great honour and privilege to celebrate World Tourism Day 2020!
Having generated a total of USD 4 billion in tourism receipts in 2019, accounting for about 7.8% of regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 2.9 million visitor arrivals (2.2 million air arrivals and 728,091 cruise arrivals), the Pacific tourism industry is without a doubt an important lifeline for many Pacific Island countries.
Today, on World Tourism Day, as we reflect on the important role of tourism, as a key economic driver and an important enabler of our progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is equally as important to envision the role which our industry can play in helping us to rebuild post-pandemic.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has designated 2020 as the Year of Tourism and Rural Development, a most fitting theme to reflect on at this important juncture as tourism stakeholders the world over anticipate the reactivation of tourism.
As a leading employer and key economic driver in our region, Pacific tourism undoubtedly has the potential to continue creating jobs and opportunities to advance inclusion and growth, alongside environmental and cultural preservation.
Looking ahead, the long and uncertain road to recovery requires a commitment to coordination and cooperation at all levels, to ensure that the development and benefits of tourism are spread as widely as possible, so as to include all segments of society but most especially rural and vulnerable communities.
Although we are currently facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, SPTO remains committed to supporting the recovery efforts of its members and all tourism stakeholders and to transforming the organisation into a global leader in sustainable tourism development, which will benefit our Blue Pacific and make a difference to the lives of our Pacific people.
Finally, COVID 19 has highlighted the importance of tourism as a key economic driver, both globally and in the Pacific. We are a resilient industry and we will come back with renewed strength, post-COVID 19. The majority of our Pacific Islands are COVID free and are looking forward to welcoming visitors back when borders re-open. The key to survival during these uncertain times is to invest in human capital, innovate, diversify and collaborate to build sustainable futures. Let us stand together to build back better for now and for always!