Member countries and partners of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) gathered in Nadi Fiji from 10-13 March 2020 to discuss regional tourism programmes for improving tourism statistics and sustainable development of the sector.
The 4-day event recognised the need for strengthening the capacity of National Tourism Organisations and National Statistics Offices in leveraging support from key stakeholders and partners in improving consistency, accuracy and data quality amongst others. It was further noted that significant efforts are needed for the sector to move beyond the economic indicators of tourism performance and start measuring the environmental and socio-cultural sustainability impacts of tourism development in the Pacific. Stakeholders also provided input on the findings and recommendations from a recent regional assessment on tourism statistical systems in the Pacific as part of a collaboration between SPTO and the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21).
Discussions also centered on identifying and understanding national priorities in relation to the sustainable development of tourism in the Pacific. With other regions already affected by overtourism and other impacts of unstainable development, stakeholders exchanged experiences views on how their countries are progressing in terms of sustainable tourism policy development, actions taken as well as challenges that are holding back progress. Stakeholders affirmed sustainability as the way forward and no a burden, for tourism development in the Pacific. The Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework that will be developed as part of this consultation process will be used as a tool to guide collective efforts in this regard.
Amidst the challenges already impacting the sector such as COVID-19, stakeholders remain positive that these risks can be mitigated in due time through stronger collaboration and commitment to reflect and agree on better ways to develop and manage tourism. In shaping regional focus, stakeholders recognise the need for tourism to generate inclusive economic returns, ensure the protection of the environment that it depends on, provide benefits for local communities and safeguards Pacific culture. Further stakeholder consultations are planned to allow for wider input to this process.
SPTO acknowledges the contribution of PARIS21, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Aid Programme, the Australian Pacific Training Coalition as well as technical partners including the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in making this event a success.