The Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) hosted its Sustainable Tourism Leaders Summit (PSTLS) under the theme of ‘Partnering for a resilient, prosperous, and inclusive Pacific through sustainable tourism”. Convened at the Edgewater Resort & Spa in the Cook Islands, the one-day Summit was attended by various stakeholders and partners including,
French Polynesia’s Vice President Jean-Christophe Bouissou, Cook Islands Associate Minister of Tourism Tingika Elikana, , Tonga’s Minister of Tourism Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu, Samoa’s Minister of Tourism Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, and Kiribati Minster of Tourism Michael Bootii Nauan were panellists at the Summit.
In his welcoming remarks, Hon. Elikana reflected on the theme and noted its importance for tourism leadership in the region, in support of the tourism sector, industry stakeholders, communities, destinations and partners. Hon. Elikana was also emphatic in acknowledging the opportunities presented by the summit, particularly the chance to reconnect, talanoa, learn and reimagine the ways in which tourism is planned, developed and managed. Hon. Elikana also urged high-level cooperation to ensure that we rebuild an industry that is more resilient, inclusive, equitable and sustainable.
“Tourism has been shaken to its core due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have found ourselves at ground zero. By standing in solidarity, the Pacific can steer our Vaka in the right direction,” Hon. Elikana said.
Furthermore, in acknowledging the importance of the PSTLS, SPTO Chairman Mr. Petero Manufolau highlighted the rationale behind the summit, which is to reinvigorate the annual convening of the Council of Tourism Ministers so as to strengthen high-level engagement and to create a much stronger purpose. Mr. Manufolau further noted that this is underpinned by the long-term vision of transforming SPTO into a global leader in sustainable tourism, so as to uplift the consolidated quality assurance of the region and promote a sustainable tourism sector.
Mr. Manufolau also acknowledged the leadership of the 11 SPTO Member Countries including Kiribati who have already signed the Sustainable Tourism Statement of Commitment and noted that they would be joined by Cook Islands and American Samoa over the course of the summit. In closing, the Chairman emphasized that SPTO’s membership are at different levels of sustainable tourism development but acknowledged that the PSTLS provides an important platform to communicate a shared vision, to not only lobby for donor support but to shine a light on Pacific communities that are combatting climate change through tourism.