May 29, 2017 Last Updated 1:08 PM, May 23, 2017

Eyes on the prize

Pacific tourism heads to Europe

WITH less than two months before the South Pacific Tourism Event in Sydney, Australia, a major campaign is underway to draw attention to the region. Over March and April a series of events planned throughout Europe will seek to draw attention to Pacific destinations. Headed by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the events will target major European cities – Barcelona, Manchester, Milan, Prague and Zurich.

Meet The Pacific – the name given to the event – will be a series of day-long business to business meetings allowing Pacific tourism suppliers to meet key European buyers and travel agents. “It’s a great way for South Pacific tourism bodies and operators to meet industry buyers in Europe for a short time and maximise their resources with maximum impact for their particular destinations, products and services,” said SPTO Marketing Manager, Alisi Lutu.

Last month the SPTO took part in a consumer tourism fair, Visit Pacific, in Malmo, Sweden. The campaign is an aggressive approach into the European market in an effort to grow the region’s traditional visitor base of Australia and New Zealand. Airlines, hotels, tour companies and cruise operators – 33 in all – from Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti and Vanuatu participated in the event.

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COOK Islands Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Henry Puna has officially launched a new brand and identity to promote South Pacific tourism globally after it was approved at the 26th Council of Tourism Ministers Meeting in Rarotonga. Organised by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the region’s peak tourism development and marketing body, the council meeting was attended by tourism ministers and government representatives from 13 Pacific island countries and China.

The new brand draws heavily on Pacific Islands’ cultural elements, in particular weaving. Individual letters in South Pacific Islands and SPTO have been taken apart, then strung back together like the strands in a woven mat. A simple corporate monogram for SPTO with a natural colour palette of beiges and browns drawn from traditional craft will be used for high-level communications.

On the other hand, all consumer facing communications will draw from a vibrant palette that’s inspired by the vivid colours found in Pacific arts and culture as well as the region’s lush natural environment. A new consumer-facing slogan “Ours is yours” accompanies the new brand. It evokes the welcoming nature of Pacific peoples and the Pacific spirit of sharing, in particular the unique cultures and pristine natural environments that our island countries share with visitors from around the world.

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Danger - Tourists

Industry acts to protect small islands

TOURISM provides close to $USD3.3billion in revenue across the Pacific each year with this figure expected to grow at a steady rate to around $USD4billion in 2019. Arrivals stood at 1.7 million in 2011, rising to 1.9 million in 2015 and projections are that visitor growth will grow at around four per cent annually. Driven by an increasing Chinese market, tourism across the region has started to see the benefits of additional visitors.

The Solomon Islands has taken on cruise ships this year – a departure from the trend of aircraft-borne arrivals. Other Pacific countries – Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu – have seen an increase in cruise ship visits over 2016. New flights have opened possibilities for Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and even the Northern Pacific with connections through Port Moresby and Nauru.

But along with increased arrivals comes the additional burden on utilities – water and electricity – and pressure on disposal facilities and the already fragile eco-systems. More tourists means additional hotel rooms and airconditioning which leads to greater power use through diesel generators. The South Pacific Tourism Organisation has taken these issues into consideration and started capacity building training to small countries to help raise awareness of.......

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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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Growth masks Palau’s flaws

ADB highlights setback in policy enforcement.

TOURISM continues to be Palau’s bread and butter and a contributed to its economic growth for the past two years but a recent private sector assessment by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) says that the country’s strength masks several pressing issues.

The assessment result which has been the result of consultation with the private sector stated, “Palau has registered 2 years of substantial economic growth and per capita income has risen to slightly in excess of $16,000, the second highest in the Pacific region. Yet the strong performance of the economy masks some pressing issues, particularly with respect to the tourism industry.”

It added that aside from tourism industry, Palau has pressing issues with its foreign investment policies, state-owned enterprise efficiency, access to finance and tax laws. Paul Holden, ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PDSI) lead economist who presented the report at the Palau Chamber of Commerce weeks ago, said that all laws and policies cannot make a difference in making changes unless enforcement is worked on.

Holden said although there is a proliferation of front businesses, getting rid of these businesses would be bad for the economy as they provide a service in Palau especially in the tourism industry. The report also pointed out that in spite of the strong economic performance, a number of pressing problems face Palau,” which will require strategic policy decisions that will impact both the economy and society”. 

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