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 14 of the SDGs which aims to CONSERVE AND SUSTAINABLY USE THE OCEAN, SEAS AND MARINE RESOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Coastal and maritime tourism, tourism’s biggest segments, particularly for Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS), rely on healthy marine ecosystems. Tourism development must be a part of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in order to help conserve and preserve fragile marine ecosystems and serve as a vehicle to promote a blue economy, in line with Target 14.7: ‘’By 2030 increase the economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism” (UNWTO).
Surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, coastal and marine-based tourism is a large segment of the Pacific island destinations’ tourism offering. Future growth of the sector is therefore largely dependent on current practices both at land and sea. Greening the tourism sector’s business and development practices across the region, is critical and becomes even more important with climatic and extreme weather events predicted to affect our part of the world.
It is important that all stakeholders continue to work together in preserving our precious ocean, seas and marine resources. For the tourism sector in the Pacific, it is vital that Government and private sector are equally committed to ensuring Environmental Impact Assessments are carried out before major tourism developments take place. Existing tourism businesses also must ensure compliance to minimum standards, which eventually contribute to the longer term preservation of natural resources, the sector depends on. Economic benefits from the ocean, seas and marine resources would only be sustainable if current and future development is sustainable.