Small scale tourism operators in Pacific island countries will benefit from a new partnership between the Forum Secretariat and South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO).
The Partnership Agreement, signed last night by Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Tuiloma Neroni Slade and SPTO acting CEO Andrew Nihopara at a ceremony in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, will draw on the strengths of both organizations to build and promote sustainable tourism ventures in Pacific island countries.
The Partnership will focus on promoting small-scale tourism operations and independent travel to tourists from Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan, and aims to target those tourism operations that provide direct employment and enterprise opportunities, particularly for women and those living in remote communities.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr. Slade said: “The tourism industry is one of the key sources of economic growth for Forum Island Countries. As a service industry, it provides many jobs to members of our communities, particularly at the grass-roots level, and is a major employer of women. Tourism is also an industry that Forum Island Countries can make their own, building on our unique cultures, our natural beauty, and our friendly people.
“It is, therefore, important that a consolidated effort must be undertaken among the stakeholders to ensure the long-term sustainability of the tourism sector.”
He added: “The Forum Secretariat is well positioned to provide trade and investment advice drawing on a deep knowledge and understanding of Pacific island countries’ needs and environment. The Secretariat also has a sound knowledge of the social, economic, and political context in member countries.
“For the purpose of the agreement, the Secretariat will delegate day-to-day activities to the Pacific Islands Trade and Invest offices in Auckland and Sydney, who have well established networks and relationships with key tourism stakeholders in both the private and public sector.”
Also at the ceremony, Mr. Nihopara said the partnership agreement was a significant step toward realizing the vision of the Council of Tourism Ministers and SPTO’s board was committed to the organization working closely and actively with the Forum Secretariat.
“Such a partnership epitomizes the collective commitment of SPTO and the Forum Secretariat to engage in programs that forms part and partial of the means to address Pillar 1 of the Pacific Plan – Economic Growth,” said Mr. Nihopara.
He added: “SPTO hopes to strengthen its already cordial working relationship with the Forum Secretariat through Pacific Islands Trade and Invest. We hope also to establish partnerships with other CROP (Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific) agencies in tourism areas of mutual interest.”