The South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE), the premier tourism event in the Pacific region, triumphantly returned to Christchurch, New Zealand, from May 12-13, 2023. This year’s first post-pandemic gathering event revolved around the timely theme “Digital Transformation to Build a Stronger Future for Pacific Tourism“.
The event successfully attracted more than 200 delegates from over 20 countries across the Pacific and worldwide, signifying the resilience and resolve of the global travel industry amidst challenges. More than 1,200 meetings were scheduled and successfully conducted over the two-day event, marking a significant milestone in the recovery and progression of the tourism sector.
Dale Stephens, Chair of New Zealand Māori Tourism, officiated at the Pōwhiri, the formal Māori welcome. He highlighted the transformation of the tourism landscape over the past few years, noting that SPTE 2023 provided a unique opportunity to ‘build back better.’ He commended the Pacific operators’ adaptability, applauding their focus on sustainable tourism planning, development, and marketing to achieve sustainable tourism growth despite the lingering effects of COVID.
Stephens endorsed the event’s theme wholeheartedly, stating, “Digital Transformation to Build a Stronger Future for Pacific Tourism” is pivotal as the tourism sector is seen as a leading edge in its use of digital technology.
New Zealand Māori Tourism was noted for its increased emphasis on trade and tourism in the Pacific, recognising the shared whakapapa connections and regional proximity’s unrealised potential for both Māori and Pacific tourism operators.
SPTO Chairman Petero Manufolau added that culture, a living phenomenon and one of the Pacific’s greatest assets, provides meaning and identity. He stated, “Our way of life, language, religion, food, social habits, music, and arts define us. The Powhiri we witnessed is a testament to this.” Manufolau also emphasised the importance of promoting Pacific cultures to the world and digital transformation to build a stronger future for Pacific Tourism.
SPTE 2023 was made possible through the support of our partners. Our Diamond partner, New Zealand Māori Tourism, and Platinum partner, Fiji Airways, exhibited unwavering commitment to the cause. Additional support from Tonga Tourism Authority, Niue Tourism, Samoa Tourism Authority, Vanuatu Tourism Office, Trove Tourism Development, and Control Union was invaluable.