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Digital Transformation Project To Guide Pacific Tourism Recovery Efforts

Pacific tourism recovery from COVID-19 will be accelerated through a four-year digital transformation programme, the Chair of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) announced today.

Supported by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the programme aims to help reactivate and ‘build back better’ a more resilient future Pacific tourism sector.

SPTO Chair, Halatoa Fua, said through this second phase of a two-phase programme, Pacific nations would remodel tourism development and marketing strategies by embracing greater use of digital technologies, and through building digital skills. 

“The package of activity will be a game changer for Pacific tourism, and will help place Pacific tourism in the best possible position for tourism recovery as borders reopen,” said Mr Fua. 

“Small Island Developing States especially will gain benefit, and this programme lays the foundation for our industry to build back better, using digital transformation to support sustainable development practices and strengthen tourism research and statistics.”

The funding arrangement — totaling NZ$4 million over a four-year period — recognises tourism as a key driver of economic growth and prosperity in the Pacific. The programme will deliver a range of training and ongoing support for SPTO and National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) in the Pacific, as well as supporting SPTO-led projects in the areas of digital marketing, advocacy and communications, and sustainable development and research.

Mr Fua acknowledged the importance of the MFAT funding, particularly given the global challenges presented by COVID-19 and the ambitions for the tourism industry, post-pandemic.

“Through this partnership, SPTO and our member NTOs can make much needed progress towards becoming digital leaders who drive the sustainable and well-informed development of the industry, for the benefit of our people,” he said.

“We are grateful to the government and people of New Zealand for their ongoing commitment to the Pacific, and for their support of this long-term Pacific regional tourism project with SPTO.”

Deputy Secretary, Pacific and Development Group for MFAT, Jonathan Kings, said that New Zealand has a strong focus on assisting the recovery of Pacific economies effected by the COVID-19 pandemic; underpinned by our place in — and of — the region. 

“COVID-19 has had a severe impact on tourism in the Pacific, and fresh-thinking and innovation will be critical as the industry adjusts to a post-COVID-19 world. Digital technology will be a vital component of building a more resilient future Pacific tourism sector, which in turn will help support the well-being of Pacific people,” he said.  


Phase Two of the transformation programme will be guided by the revised SPTO Strategic Plan (2020- 2024), the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework, the Pacific Tourism Statistics Strategy, the SPTO Digital Marketing Strategy, and the SPTO Digital Strategy Framework; all of which were developed under Phase One. 

About SPTO

Established in 1983 as the Tourism Council of the South Pacific, the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is the mandated organisation representing tourism in the region. The 21 government members are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Rapa Nui, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis & Futuna, and the People’s Republic of China. In addition to government members, the Pacific Tourism Organisation also enlists a private sector membership base.

About MFAT

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is responsible for managing the New Zealand Aid Programme. This is New Zealand’s official support for developing countries, with a particular focus on the Pacific Islands region.

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