FORUM ECONOMIC MINISTERS MEETING
FORUM ECONOMIC OFFICIALS MEETING
25-27 April 2018
|STANDING AGENDA ITEM
Regional Tourism Marketing And Development Initiatives
|Summary of Issue
|This paper which has been prepared by South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) provides an update on the development and marketing of the region’s Tourism sector, and outlines SPTO’s work programme to be implemented in 2019, and beyond.
Tourism plays a significant role in Pacific Island economies, amounting to US$1.4 billion in spending in 2013 (World Bank) which increased to US$4.3 billion in 2017 (SPTO). The World Bank’s Pacific Possible report launched in 2017 has highlighted the tourism sector as an opportunity for transformative economic growth in the region and is also a means to preserve the environment and Pacific cultural heritage through sustainable tourism practices.
Sustainable Tourism Development
- Tourism is a major driver of economic growth in many Pacific countries. However, the sector remains vulnerable, specifically susceptible to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Through its activities across the region, SPTO has found that there is tremendous need for sustainable tourism policies to guide sustainable tourism development and that there are financial limitations across the region to develop such policies and employ the expertise for its implementation.
- SPTO has continuously urged both the public and private sectors, through the member National Tourism Offices (NTOs), to seriously prioritise sustainable tourism development to ensure that the sector is sustained for future generations. National sustainable tourism policies must be developed and funding made available for the implementation of sustainable tourism activities and programmes, and up-skilling or capacity building of the human resources to undertake this work.
- Importantly, the financial support from national governments to the private sector would greatly assist and add value to their sustainable tourism initiatives as they transition to adopt practices that encourage energy efficiency, proper waste management, and environmental conservation; and strengthen their resilience to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. Such transitions are costly, requiring financing through loans or a funding facility to facilitate implementation.
China-Pacific Tourism Year (CPTY) 2019
- China’s status as the world’s largest outbound market provides a platform for the Pacific region, as a friend of China, to benefit from its continued growth. In its Pacific Possible Report, the World Bank forecasts that increasing the Chinese market in the Pacific could mean 755,000 additional tourists which translates to US$1 billion in spending and up to 70,000 additional jobs.
- As such, China continues to be an important emerging market for Forum Island Countries. As such, SPTO’s annual marketing programme prioritises important tourism trade events in China. While such events and road shows greatly enhance the visibility of the Pacific in host cities of China, there is still much to be done to strengthen the Pacific presence in China and importantly, to ensure that there are attractive tourism niche products in the Pacific that would be of interest to Chinese visitors.
- Concurrently, the Chinese Government has also identified tourism as one of its development priorities and there is clear policy guidance in making this important sector one of the key economic pillars of the Chinese economy. At the High Level Dialogue on the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) held on May 14 and 15, 2017, China announced that in the coming three years, it will provide assistance worth RMB 60 billion to developing countries and international organisations participating in the BRI to launch more projects to improve people’s well-being.
- The membership of the SPTO have designated 2019 as the China-Pacific Tourism Year (CPTY) which will be celebrated nationally in all its 17 Pacific member countries. As the CPTY will only be a marketing campaign, SPTO has consulted its members’ National Tourism Offices (NTOs) for the planning of national programmes and events, to be celebrated in each member country with the following outcomes anticipated from CPTY 2019:
- Increase of Chinese niche visitors from China to visit PICs from 2019 and beyond;
- Increase awareness and understanding of Chinese culture in the PICs and Pacific culture in China;
- New relationships established between the Pacific and Chinese media to facilitate media awareness of Pacific Islands in China and vice versa;
- New opportunities and partnerships developed between China and the Pacific to improve tourism development in the Pacific; and,
- Sister-City relations to be established between PICs and China to promote people-to-people connectivity, sustainable tourism and culture exchanges.
SPTO, through the member NTOs, have requested member governments to endorse and set aside the budget for this milestone.
Regional & National Tourism Promotion and Development
- Tourism is one of the only industries in the world where the ‘good’ or ‘service’ is consumed at the site of production. For this reason, local people are both at an advantage to reap the benefits associated with the sector, but also at risk from exclusion or even the negative impacts it can bring. Well planned, regulated and responsible tourism can be an excellent mechanism for channeling resources from rich to poor – even at the large scale. However, for Pacific Island countries, tourism development is constrained by a lack of, or limited, financing.
- In order to further develop the sector, an increase in resourcing is required. This requires a level of commitment from all stakeholders to support a regional approach to growing the tourism sector. Equally though the regional strategy developed by SPTO, a partnership between the public sector, private sector and donors – each with their own roles to play in supporting implementation, is required.
- While the importance of tourism has been emphasised by Forum Leaders, it is pertinent that Pacific governments prioritise Tourism marketing and development in their respective national governments budgets. Equally important, governments need to identify funding opportunities to assist regional tourism promotion and development. The World Bank and SPTO strongly believe the Tourism sector can boost competitiveness, expand economic opportunity and provide a pathway to prosperity.
South Pacific Tourism Organisation, Suva
3 April 2018
 Pacific Tourism Strategy (PTS) 2015-2019