2017 has been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for development by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), reflecting the strong commitment of the tourism sector to achieving the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), adopted by governments in 2015.
In the region, The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is working hard to ensure that tourism partners understand this commitment to sustainable tourism and are able to articulate what it means for them as partners in tourism development.
In an effort to bring about a clearer understanding of the SDGs and what it means for the region, SPTO has started a series of blogs to discuss the relevance of each goal to Pacific tourism.
According to UNWTO, Tourism has the potential to contribute directly or indirectly to all the SDG’s and is included as targets in Goals 8, 12 and 14 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, sustainable consumption and production and the sustainable use of ocean and marine resources, respectively.
In the Pacific we can continue to work together to ensure that our tourism businesses are thriving; our land and ocean resources are managed well; our people benefit and our cultural values and traditions remain intact.
This week we will look at Goal 10 of the SDGs which aims to REDUCE INEQUALITY WITHIN AND AMONG COUNTRIES
Tourism can be a powerful tool for community development and reducing inequalities if it engages local populations and all key stakeholders in its development. Tourism can contribute to urban renewal and rural development and reduce regional imbalances by giving communities the opportunity to prosper in their place of origin. Tourism is also an effective means for developing countries to take part in the global economy. In 2014, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) received US$ 16.4 billion in exports from international tourism, up from US$ 2.6 billion in 2000 making the sector an important pillar of their economies (7% of total exports) and helping some to graduate from the LDC status. (UNWTO)
Tourism has proven to be a major source of foreign exchange earnings, national income and employment for many Pacific island countries. The sector’s contribution to the region is valued at more than USD 3 billion in 2016 with tourism contribution to GDP in 2015 for some countries reaching as high as 48%.
The Pacific tourism product is dominated by Micro, Small to Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), owned and managed by locals, a region that has strong cultural ties to the land and where a range of development approaches aim to benefit communities.
The sector also plays an important role in retaining people in particular youth and women in their communities at the same time provide employment to those who choose to move to urban areas in search of socio-economic opportunities. The sector therefore contributes to a great extent in reducing equalities and enhancing the overall development status of their countries.