Tourists come to the Pacific to enjoy our pristine environment. We need to ensure our tourism contributes to the environment to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs.
For the Pacific, sustainable tourism can be an important economic driver of the Green Economy. Done right, tourism can be a major economic driver in the Green-Blue Economy, if:
- it respects the Pacific environment and cultures;
- it uses local products and expertise;
- it invests in the welfare of the communities; and
- it integrates in the development efforts of the countries where they operate.
The Pacific Green Business Centre wants to promote a type of tourism that we term ‘experience tourism’.
Experience tourism ensures that tourists do not just fly in and out of a tourism bubble leaving the Pacific knowing as little about the Pacific as they knew when they came in. We should consider this to be a learning opportunity for tourists and travellers alike, to give them an opportunity to learn from our cultures and understand our challenges.
We must promote those things that make us unique, that is:
- Local culture
- Local biodiversity
- Local means of transport
- Local food
- Local industries
- Community Life
In the Pacific we already have tourism operations that offer excellent sustainable tourism models:
- The Drua Experience is a traditionally built boat being a replica of the only surviving Fijian drua ‘i Vola Siga Vou’. One can learn the secrets of this proud voyaging canoe by taking part in sailing her. She pays homage to the design widely regarded as the greatest battleship of the Pacific, the Drua.
- Kula Eco Park on the island of Viti Levu, helps preserve the incredibly diverse natural heritage of the beautiful Fiji Islands. Founded in 1997, the park has been transformed into KULA WILD Adventure Park – the biggest, most diverse Family Fun Park in Fiji.
- Pa`s Trek in Cook Islands. Pa takes tourists on guided walking and hiking tours of the interiors of Rarotonga. He helps trekkers identify local medicine plants used by his ancestors and recites stories of wars, famines and great migrations as passed to him by his forefathers.
- Kumul Lodge is owned and managed by the locals from the Enga community. The lodge endeavors to preserve the surrounding forests that is home to a large number of endemic species of birds.
- Talanoa Treks in Fiji aims to take you off the beaten track, to experience Fiji’s interior – its dramatic peaks, pristine forests, sparkling rivers, remote villages and unique history – and by going on foot you have the opportunity to experience the vibrant traditional culture that runs deep within Fijian society.
The Pacific Islands Development Forum will work closely with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation’s Division of Sustainable Tourism Development to promote sustainable tourism for communities that need alternatives to other resource-based income generation. PIDF will also promote tourism that utilises locally appropriate principles of sustainable construction and design while respecting the natural and cultural surroundings and supports the development of local communities. In the coming years PIDF and SPTO will establish a network for community based sustainable tourism operations as well as support the establishment of a Pacific appropriate green certification standard for tourism. The Pacific Green Business Centre will be one of the vehicles for the two regional organisations to achieve this.
The Pacific Green Business Centre also wants to promote sustainable transport for the Pacific tourism industry.
Tourism can be part of the problem OR be part of the solution. Let’s together ensure it would be the latter.