The recent Pacific Sustainable Tourism Leadership Summit held in Tahiti, French Polynesia from 16 – 17 October saw delegates deliberating on the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Standard during a side event on 16 October. Facilitated by the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and TRC Tourism, this session was an opportunity to share the journey of the SPTO Member Countries and its alliance of sustainable tourism leaders including Ministers of Tourism, industry, civil society, donors and partners to forge a shared vision towards 2030 and beyond.
The event commenced with an introduction to the PSTS and delved into the Destination Criteria as well as the Industry Criteria, ways in which destinations and industry can address the criteria and how these can support efforts to meet national and regional standards and policies.
Providing a holistic overview, the facilitators emphasized that the PSTS serves as a guide for destinations and tourism businesses. It plays a pivotal role in steering sustainable destination development and business practices. By offering direction and guidance, the PSTS aims to fortify the commitment of stakeholders towards sustainable tourism practices.
The National Tourism Organisations also had the opportunity to share their experience at the event. The Marshall Islands provided insights on the challenges it faces as a unique destination with a small tourism industry and pointed out the important role of establishing a robust policy framework to guide future progress in the sector. Vanuatu discussed its journey of collaborating with the GSTC on the development of its Sustainable Tourism Policy and the ongoing work in refining the scope of its industry standards, a process that will be guided by the PSTS.
Cook Islands highlighted efforts underway in resetting the country’s approach to tourism, and the aspirations for a regenerative model, following the launch of its Destination Development Strategy. He underlined the value of standards in providing guidance as they consider reviewing their own.
Kiribati highlighted the immense value of the PSTS in complementing and enhancing Kiribati’s tourism policies and frameworks which have taken inspiration from the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework. The discussion also underscored the PSTS as a tool not only for emerging destinations but also for those with established standards, offering a pathway for continuous improvement. In light of this, SPTO support for training and awareness at the country level was highlighted as a priority.
TRC Tourism also congratulated the SPTO Member Countries and stakeholders for this milestone achievement particularly in coming together to shape sustainable tourism standards for the region, noting the complexities surrounding tourism development across 20 countries. The ideas shared at the side event will go a long way in bringing the standards to life.
To access and learn more about the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Standard, click here.