Expanding tourism, low world commodity prices, high levels of revenue from fishing fees, and rising construction activity are supporting moderate gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates in most Pacific Islands.
And in the longer term, reforms in tourism, labour mobility, fisheries, and the knowledge economy have the potential to lead to significantly higher incomes, employment, and government revenue.
The World Bank’s October 2017 edition of the East Asia and Pacific Economic Update reports growth in tourism, if well managed, has the potential to yield substantial benefits to the region, including Pacific Island countries.
But according to World Bank chief economist for the East Asia and Pacific region, Sudhir Shetty, Fiji as in much of the region, has a lot of potential to grow the sector even further.
“So Fiji has been very successful and is one of the tourism leaders in the Pacific as well as more broadly in terms of the contribution it makes to its economy,” Mr Shetty told this newspaper in a joint video press conference from the Singapore World Bank office. The improved prospects for global growth offer a window of opportunity for countries to reduce vulnerabilities while pursuing reforms that can yield growth dividends over the longer term.”
Mr Shetty added while tourism already contributed significantly to exports to much of East Asia and in the Pacific Island countries, it had the potential to contribute even more.
But this, he said, was needed to be done in a way that was sustainable.
“One is about environmental sustainability, that there is a risk tourism development will happen in many ways that will inflict certain damages to the environment,” he said.
“Second, there also needs to be attention given to how tourism connects to the rest of the local economy. Reducing risks to financial sector stability and strengthening competitiveness, including through deeper regional integration, remain priorities.”
The report also highlighted the potential that tourism development and deeper regional integration could offer to offset the risks of protectionism.
For more information, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/eap
(Source: The Fiji Times News 05 October 2017)