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 started 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.
Gender Equality is achieved when women and men enjoy the same rights and opportunities across all sectors of society. In many countries of the world including the Pacific, gender equality can only be achieved through empowering women and girls as it is recognised that women and girls do not have the access to the same opportunities and can be discriminated against on the basis of being female.
Tourism can empower women in multiple ways, particularly through the provision of jobs and through income-generating opportunities in small and larger-scale tourism and hospitality related enterprises. As one of the sectors with the highest share of women employed and entrepreneurs, tourism can be a tool for women to unlock their potential, helping them to become fully engaged and lead in every aspect of society (UNWTO).
The traditional role of Pacific women in a village setting would see her weave mats, baskets, fans or make decorated tapa cloth (i.e. masi in Fijian) for special occasions. Nowadays, women are using these same skills to supply the same goods to tourists that visit our shores, with some becoming entrepreneurs in the process.
In the same way, Pacific women have the ability to translate the skills of their traditional roles to those of the professional work spaces in our society. From managing a household to managing a travel agency office or hotel, from cooking for the family to cooking for tourists, and from weaving fans for village weddings to weaving fans for tourists.
In this regard, Pacific women have the ability to transfer their multiple skills from the cultural setting to the work spaces and make strides in male-dominated industries. In the Pacific, Tourism acts as a driver that empowers women- to unlock their potential through their crafts, promote and build their adaptive nature to be good stewards of communities and become role models for girls