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 will start a series of blogs this week 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 8 of the SDGs which aims to PROMOTE SUSTAINED, INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH, FULL AND PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYMENT AND DECENT WORK FOR ALL

Tourism is one of the driving forces of global economic growth, and currently provides for 1 in 11 jobs worldwide. By giving access to decent work opportunities in the tourism sector, society particularly youth and women, can benefit from increased skills and professional development.  The sector’s contribution to job creation is reflected in Target 8.9 ‘’By 2030 devise and implement policies that contribute to sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products” (UNWTO)

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The Pacific Tourism Strategy 2015-2019 is strongly underpinned by the vision that tourism in the Pacific will inspire sustainable economic growth and empower Pacific people.  With a nation-wide reach, the sector is in a vital position to enhance community livelihoods through the creation of job and business opportunities.  As the only economic sector to have grown consistently in the past years, tourism in the Pacific will continue to also benefit women, men, youth and community groups through the supply of agricultural produce, handicrafts, cultural entertainment and a range of other support services.

For the sector to effectively transition into sustainability,  stronger commitment is needed to elevate the quality and standard of products and services in order to achieve sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.  The key is to empower Pacific people so that the workforce is skilled and qualified to meet industry demand and fulfil visitor expectations.

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