The Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), Pacific Community (SPC) and United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) have partnered to support tourism recovery through an innovative tourism diversification strategy. Under the Pacific Eco Tourism Recovery Initiative, assessments on the potential for the establishment of geoparks on existing ecotourism sites in Fiji, Tuvalu, Samoa and Vanuatu will be undertaken by the appointed consultant, Mr. Rob Macalister of Savvy Vanuatu.
In undertaking the preliminary feasibility study, Mr. Macalister will work closely with National Tourism Organisations, geological focal points, industry partners and local communities in the four countries, with the long term goal of establishing geoparks under the global UNESCO geoparks framework.
Given that there are no geoparks in the Pacific, the feasibility study and longer term work will draw on the experiences of other sites such as the neighboring Waitaki Whitestone Geopark in New Zealand.
SPTO CEO, Christopher Cocker, acknowledged the importance of tourism diversification against the backdrop of tourism reactivation in a post- pandemic world.
“Post – pandemic, we expect a rise in sustainably driven tourism. These eco and socially conscious travelers will be seeking authentic experiences and the Pacific has much to offer in that regard”.
“As we shift our focus to niche tourism opportunities and the sustainable development of our industry, initiatives like this will become increasingly important to the work of SPTO. We are grateful to UNESCO for the financial support provided and SPC Geoscience team for their leadership in pursuing this pathway for the Pacific as well as their technical expertise and support”, he said.
It is envisaged that the Pacific Eco Tourism Recovery Initiative will complement the work which is expected under the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework and revised SPTO Strategic Plan 2020-2024, both of which seek to diversify tourism’s offerings through sustainable practices, innovative partnerships and local engagement.