How sustainable is Pacific tourism?

FOR sometime now, sustainability has been the buzzword in development circles. We have the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs that Pacific member countries of the UN have adopted and are working diligently towards. Within the Pacific Islands tourism sector, there’s been a lot of talk about “sustainable tourism” in recent years with next year being designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development (IYST) by the UN. But what does “sustainable tourism” actually mean in the Pacific context and how are we faring as a region? Sustainable tourism in the Pacific means a variety of things, including:

• The protection of our natural environment so that it continues to be an attraction for visitors, thus ensuring the sustainability of our destinations as tourism products.

• Sustainable practices that ensure key players in the region, including hoteliers and other members of the private sector, are at the forefront of protecting our assets, as our islands are prone to natural disasters and hazards.

• Our culture and heritage is a niche tourism product and needs protection and conservation to ensure it does not die.

• Maintaining and sustaining both land and marine assets, among other things. Exactly, how far along are we in terms of embracing the sustainable tourism ethos as a region?

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