Following the 12th Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders in Honolulu in the past week, the Pacific Tourism Organisation was privileged to attend a reception celebrating a portion of the 2020 cohort of the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program.
The Professional Fellows Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the East-West Center. Initiated in 2018 by the East-West Center the initiative is a four-week programme designed to build significant new skills and facilitate enduring professional bonds between tourism professionals in the United States and the Pacific Islands.
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 cohort engaged virtually and were only able to travel to the United States this year. Having now completed three weeks of work placement with various organisations in Hawaii, the group is now in Washington for the final week of the program.
With twelve fellows from Fiji (4), Solomon Islands (2), Papua New Guinea (1), Vanuatu (2), and Timor Leste (3) the group is part of a larger cohort of 32, which is the last cohort under this program. The remainder of the group is scheduled to undertake the in-person component of the program in November.
In moving forward, SPTO will continue to partner with the East-West Center through the Professional Fellows Program Opportunity for Young Economic Empowerment Leaders. As with previous arrangements between the organisations, SPTO will assist in reviewing and providing recommendations on applicants for the programme. Moreover, a representative from SPTO will also conduct a presentation during orientation week for each of the programme’s three cohorts, beginning in February 2023.
Noting SPTO’s partnership with the East-West Center, SPTO CEO Christopher Cocker acknowledged the importance of professional development for the Pacific.
“Building capacity through international exposure and programs such as the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program is so important for working professionals in the region. These initiatives afford an opportunity to broaden mindsets, establish networks and of course, contribute to building globally competitive industries here in the Pacific”.
“As this group nears the end of the program I’d like to congratulate them for representing the Pacific well and I encourage them to share their learnings with their colleagues in the industry upon their return. We greatly value our partnership with the East-West Center and look forward to following the progress of the remainder of the group in November”, said Mr. Cocker.
“The East-West Center proudly acknowledges the Professional Fellows for the successful completion of their Fellowships. We wish all 12 well as they return home and try to put their learning to work to support economic development in their communities. It was great to include SPTO in the wrap-up reception as they have been a valued partner throughout the program,” said East-West Center’s Senior Program Officer Scott Kroeker.