SPTO embarks on partnership with East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP)

The South Pacific Tourism Organisation and the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) have signed an MoU yesterday establishing partnership towards the empowerment of the Pacific people through the delivery of training and capacity building initiatives.

The MOU with the PIDP based at the East-West Center Hawaii will see more collaboration with SPTO in progressing areas of mutual interest that support tourism development and economic empowerment in the Pacific Island region.

“SPTO is proud to embark on this partnership with the PIDP and together with our combined resources and networks, I know we will achieve great things for our member countries and industry stakeholders in a manner that is both sustainable and brings economic growth and social benefits to the region. Hawaii is the most developed in our region and we can share knowledge from the lessons they’ve learnt,” said SPTO CEO, Chris Cocker.

Mr Cocker also added that the development of this partnership is strategically aligned with SPTO’s vision to empower our Pacific people.

“We’ve done a reinvestigation which is still underway and a program analysis of where we are now and where we might want to go, but importantly key to this is to hear what people’s priorities are and what we’ve heard was the development of tourism expertise and the economic sustainability concerns throughout the Pacific” said Dr Richard Vuylsteke, President of the East-West Center, Hawaii.

Currently the centre has a program funded by the US Department of State called the ‘Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program’, which brings 32 Pacific Islanders from the region to Hawaii for a 6-week professional development opportunity which includes leadership training activities and an internship placement in local businesses that’s relevant to their field.

SPTO in turn this week hosted Laura Essenberg, who is a Professional Fellow and also Social Media Strategist from the  Outrigger Resort Hawaii who ran a ‘social media strategy’ workshop at SPTO to help Tourism SMEs from Fiji and Tuvalu maximize business and marketing opportunities through social media.

Ms Essenberg was connected to SPTO by Petero Manufolau, Director of Sales at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, who was one of the Fiji fellows from the last cohort of the program, earlier this year.

“Hawaii is a huge tourism area, we’ve done a lot of things right and wrong over the years, so the professional training we provide focuses on the right thing to do, what to avoid and also because of connectivity, marketing and social media there’s a dimension of growth in the area of expertise that tourism professionals need to have and especially if you’re working in sustainable development” added Dr Vuylsteke.

This partnership will see the activation of specific cooperative programs that draw on the resources and experiences of the two Parties and leverage their respective networks in the region.

Through the MOU, all parties will share, enhance and complement each other’s strengths, expertise and resources, underpinning the “one team” approach for tourism development and economic empowerment in the Pacific Islands, as well as identify and agree on priority areas for cooperative programmes designed to meet the development needs of the Pacific.


About PIDP
The Pacific Islands Development Program (PIDP) is a CROP Agency and it is the first time that the US is funding Tourism development initiative for the Pacific.

PIDP conducts a broad range of activities to enhance the quality of life in the Pacific islands. The founding mission of PIDP is to assist Pacific Islands’ leader advance their collective efforts to achieve and sustain equitable social and economic development. Since 1980 PIDP has served as a forum through which island leaders discuss critical issues of development with interested countries, donors, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

PIDP was formed at the specific request of the region’s island leaders. It is the only East-West Center program whose activities have a defined geographic focus informed by both the area studies and disciplinary expertise of its staff and participants.

About East-West Centre Hawaii

The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options. The Center is an independent, public, nonprofit organization with funding from the U.S. government, and additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and governments in the region.

Over more than fifty years of serving as a U.S.-based institution for public diplomacy in the Asia Pacific region with international governance, staffing, students, and participants, the Center has built a worldwide network of 65,000 alumni and more than 1,100 partner organizations. The Center’s 21-acre Honolulu campus, adjacent to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is located midway between Asia and the U.S. mainland and features research, residential, and international conference facilities. The Center’s Washington, D.C., office focuses on preparing the United States for an era of growing Asia Pacific prominence.

About SPTO

Established in 1983 as the Tourism Council of the South Pacific, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is the mandated organisation representing Tourism in the region. Its 18 Government members are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia,

Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the People’s Republic of China. In addition to government members, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation enlists a private sector membership base.

 For further information, please contact:

Alisi Lutu, Marketing Manager
South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO)
Email: alutu@spto.org or +679 3304177

[Source: SPTO press release 07th December, 2018]

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