As an emerging destination, Kiribati recognises that the future of tourism for the small island state must be sustainable. This is in line with our national vision for “tourism to be a key driver for stimulating sustainable economic development, environmental conservation, cultural preservation and social wellbeing for Kiribati by 2036”. To achieve this, collaboration amongst all key sectors including Government, the private sector, civil societies, faith-based organisations, schools and local communities is essential.
Tourism Authority of Kiribati CEO Petero Manufolau recognises that the Kiribati Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework (KSTDPF) is wide reaching in its aspirations given the cross cutting nature of tourism.
“We only have one chance at getting this right. Tourism is everyone’s business, and TAK is encouraged that key government sectors are implementing policies and regulations to help fulfil the tourism sector’s sustainable tourism aspirations,” Mr Manufolau said.
Since TAK’s establishment in June 2019, the organisation has noted the positive contributions and projects undertaken to promote and support sustainable tourism development across the country.
In 2020, the Environment Conservation Division (ECD) launched The Kiribati Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy (KWMRRS 2020 – 2030) as a critical policy instrument to govern the management of solid, chemical, and hazardous waste, replacing the old National Solid Waste Management Strategy.
Guided by this strategy, TAK will develop programs to guide tourism business operators in adopting solid waste management practices as recommended in the KWMRRS. It also aligns with Goal 1 of the KSTDPF, focusing on “Establishing a tourism waste disposal and recycling program based on the Kiribati Waste Management and Recourse Recovery Strategy 2020-2030”.
Other waste management activities by TAK include the Beautification Initiative on Kirimati IslandMonthly Clean-up Program and the Plastic Repurposing Workshop on Abemama Island.
TAK recognises that developing mini hatcheries on Nonouti, Abemama, and Maiana by the Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resource Development (MFMRD) will directly impact sustainable tourism development in these islands.
The project is part of MFMRD’s effort to ensure the sustainable management of coastal fisheries, enhance food production, and improve island communities’ adaptive capacity and livelihood. These mini hatcheries will also be crucial to managing bonefish and other fish stocks that the fly-fishing market seeks out in Kiribati. Similarly, such a fish stock rehabilitation method will guarantee equitable fish stock for the reef-to-fork experience travelers seek to experience on these islands.
As part of a Community-Based Tourism initiative TAK is coordinating a fishing guide training and sustainable fishing practices focusing on reviving traditional knowledge on food gathering to reduce reliance on imported food products.
The recently launched Kiribati National Disability Policy & Action Plan (KNDPAP) reflects a national approach to disability-inclusive development through attitudinal, social, and institutional change.
This policy encourages tourism business operators to effectively engage people with special needs and abilities in areas where their unique skill sets may improve visitor experiences in Kiribati and provide equal employment opportunities.
Goal 3 of the KSTDPF-Priority 3.2 focuses on tourism that provides equal opportunities and will not discriminate against gender, sexual orientation, marginalized community members, and people of different religious beliefs and opinions.
Goal 2 of the KSTDPF outlines that tourism must preserve cultural and historical heritage. This sustainable tourism goal is further amplified through the 2019 International Visitor Survey (IVS) results, where culture was identified as a top reason why leisure travelers visit and enjoy Kiribati.
The Umwanibong Act 2022 now legislates this tourism priority by making provisions for managing the Museum (te Umwanibong) and protecting, preserving, and promoting Cultural Heritage. This will be attained through joint efforts in protecting and preserving cultural and historical sites and war relics as well as promoting and encouraging cultural values and practices.