2017 has been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for development by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), reflecting the strong commitment of the tourism sector to achieving the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), adopted by governments in 2015.
In the region, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is working hard to ensure that tourism partners understand this commitment to sustainable tourism and are able to articulate what it means for them as partners in tourism development.
In an effort to bring about a clearer understanding of the SDGs and what it means for the region, SPTO has stared a series of blogs to discuss the relevance of each goal to Pacific tourism.
According to UNWTO, Tourism has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to all the SDG’s and is included as targets in Goals 8, 12 and 14 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption and production and the sustainable use of ocean and marine resources, respectively.
In the Pacific we can continue to work together to ensure that our tourism businesses are thriving; our land and ocean resources are managed well; our people benefit and our cultural values and traditions remain intact.
This week we will look at Goal 3 of the SDGs which aims to ENSURE HEALTHY LIVES, AND PROMOTE WELL-BEING FOR ALL AT ALL AGES.
Healthy lives and well- being can be linked directly to tourism in many different ways.
Household income from tourism has helped to improve access to better health care and enhance the well-being of Pacific people.
Foreign earnings and tax income from tourism can be reinvested in health care and services, which contribute to improving maternal health, reducing child mortality and preventing diseases, among others.
Tourism is the only economic sector in the Pacific that has grown consistently over the last several years with further positive growth predicted for the future.
It is without a doubt that the foreign earnings, income and other taxes generated from the sector will continue to contribute significantly to improving health services and well-being in the region.
Opportunities also exist for the further development of Medical Tourism for Pacific countries with the appropriate infrastructure.
In many countries of the region, food tourism is also promoting the use of local cuisine and while this enhances the visitor experience, it can also contribute to the ongoing awareness for Pacific people to move away from processed food and have a stronger appreciation for fresh local produce.
This can also contribute to more people leading healthy lives and lowering the alarming rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the region.