Warm Pacific Greetings!
As we celebrate World Tourism Day 2019, it is an opportune time to reflect on just how important Tourism is to our Pacific region. Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and here in the Pacific it is no different. Pacific Tourism in 2018 generated over 3 million air and cruise passengers, US$3.8 billion tourism earnings, employed more than 130,000 tourism employees and contributed 11.2% to Pacific GDP.
With that in mind, nurturing the growth of Pacific Tourism in a responsible and sustainable manner is now more important than ever; we cannot take our natural resources, culture, people and heritage for granted. With the threat of climate change knocking on our door, we must collectively make a real commitment to preserving our natural resources and the livelihoods of our people, both of which are our most valuable resources.
Governments, the private sector and all other Tourism stakeholders must work together to enact policies that enhance tourism opportunities and at the same time, acknowledge and protect the Pacific’s unique selling points – our culture, natural environments and our Pacific People!
Moreover, in order to attract visitors to our shores we must continue to forge new innovative partnerships. One such example of which can be seen is the China Pacific Islands Tourism Year that we in Pacific Tourism are celebrating in 2019. This initiative was announced to Pacific Leaders at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Port Moresby in Nov, 2018 by President Xi Jinping and was officially launched in Samoa in April, 2019.
The initiative is aimed at establishing innovative partnerships with the Republic of China’s Ministry of Culture & Tourism and other relevant stakeholders to. Since its inception, CPTY 2019 has provided valuable opportunities like promoting a better understanding of China in the Pacific and vice versa, raising the visibility of the Pacific brand in China through trade familiarization visits, platforms for market research, training programmes for Pacific Island representatives and so forth.
There is no doubt that Tourism in the Pacific will continue to grow and is a key driver of economic growth in the Pacific. Therefore, continued cooperation and mutual understanding of tourism opportunities is so important. CPTY 2019 and initiatives like it play a pivotal role in enhancing communication and connectivity between the Pacific and her partners and stakeholders.
Let us all remember that the sustainable growth of this most valuable sector will assist in securing our future in the Blue Pacific. So today, whilst celebrating world tourism, let us also commit to cooperating at the national and regional levels to ensure that the Pacific tourism industry enjoys a long and prosperous future.
At the SPTO office in Suva we celebrate World Tourism Day today with the launch of the “Pacific Sustainable Tourism Newz Beat” – a Pacific focused sustainable tourism newsletter, developed internally by our Sustainable Tourism Development Division.
SPTO joins hands with our 21 government members and stakeholders in celebrating this momentous day.
Happy World Tourism Day!
Christopher Cocker, CEO, South Pacific Tourism Organisation and SPTO team.