As Tonga prepares to rebuild its tourism industry post-pandemic and following the devastation caused by the Hunga- Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai eruption, there is widespread recognition that the industry must build back better to be more resilient, sustainable, responsive and inclusive.
These were the sentiments shared by the Honorable Fekitamoeloa Utoikamanu (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Tourism of Tonga) when she signed the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Statement of Commitment (SOC) in Suva earlier this week.
“Like the rest of the Pacific COVID-19 devastated Tonga’s tourism industry and this was further exacerbated by the volcanic eruption. As we re-position for tourism reactivation we recognize that mechanisms like the Statement of Commitment provide us with an opportunity to better coordinate with regional efforts targeting a better future for our people, through sustainable tourism development”, she said.
In acknowledging the ongoing support for the Statement of Commitment, SPTO CEO Mr Christopher Cocker noted that it was heartening to see close to half of SPTO’s membership endorse the Commitment.
“Through the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework, SPTO seeks to empower and benefit our communities through tourism that is resilient, prosperous and inclusive. Tools like the Statement of Commitment will ensure that our efforts in these areas are well informed, targeted and coordinated. To that end, we are working hard to have the Commitment endorsed by all of our members ahead of the October 2022 Council of Tourism Ministers Meeting in the Cook Islands”, he said.
Tonga is now the ninth SPTO Pacific island member to endorse the SOC, joining the Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, New Caledonia, Niue, Vanuatu, Timor Leste, Tokelau and the Solomon Islands.