The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many challenges for the tourism industry globally and across the Pacific region. As part of its efforts in ensuring effective stakeholder engagement in the recovery process, the SPTO has partnered with the Travel Foundation to explore viable options for recovery and resilience. The partnership has three key focus areas which include; 1) Stakeholder Engagement and having a “Shared Agenda”, 2) Destination Development and Management and 3) Capacity and Workforce Development. The Partnership was launched via a webinar in early July through an interactive talanoa session with stakeholders from across the sector.
Of the partnership goals, Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation said, “We have high hopes for a fruitful collaboration where innovation and best practice will combine to demonstrate the true potential of tourism to benefit communities. The Pacific has the opportunity and ambition to lead the way in developing a new model for tourism which will inspire others globally”.
Some of the key issues raised during the discussions included the need to integrate sustainable tourism practices into destination planning and management and ensuring that the sector does not lose sight of the importance of continuing the collaborative actions to address major issues affecting sustainable development in the Pacific such as climate change, waste management, environmental sustainability, community involvement. Essentially, these should remain critical elements of the tourism agenda for recovery.
Christopher Cocker, CEO of SPTO also noted the possibilities of the partnership; “We welcome the experience and expertise that the Travel Foundation brings to our team, and look forward to working in close collaboration to support our members with the tools, resources and programmes that will support smart and swift recovery, and ensure the region’s tourism offer is future fit. We know we have a huge task ahead as we begin the process of recovery, and it is important that we do things that are right not just for now, but for the long term.”
With great uncertainty around the end of the pandemic and when international travel will resume, stakeholders shared commitments that could be made not just by the partnership but also by the industry and wider stakeholders to ensure that recovery efforts contribute to ensuring tourism emerges stronger and more resilient post pandemic. These included educating travellers on responsible tourism initiatives, enhancing support that are conducive to growing small local businesses and ensuring that the right markets are targeted to suit the destination and host communities noting the challenges that come with the new normal.
Recognising the extent of the impacts of the pandemic at all levels, approaching the recovery process with a renewed vision of strengthening genuine partnerships is key. Placing sustainability and communities at the centre of the recovery process is therefore crucial in moving forward.
The Partnership launch also introduced the #AlwaysPacific campaign which is an inward looking campaign that focuses on bringing destination stakeholders together to support the recovery process. The campaign is supported by messages that encourage the Pacific to be thinking about ‘Always promoting unique experiences’, ‘Always striving to be better’ and ‘Always involving communities in the process’.
Virtual trainings for National Tourism Offices and private sector will be rolled out as part of the initial partnership activities this year.
(Source: SPTO news)