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 15 of the SDGs which aims to PROTECT, RESTORE AND PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE USE OF TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEMS, SUSTAINABLY MANAGE FORESTS, COMBAT DESERTIFICATION AND HALT AND REVERSE LAND DEGRADATION AND HALT BIODIVERSITY LOSS
Majestic landscapes, pristine forests, rich biodiversity, and natural heritage sites are often main reasons why tourists visit a destination. Sustainable tourism can play a major role, not only in conserving and preserving biodiversity, but also in respecting terrestrial ecosystems, owing to its efforts towards the reduction of waste and consumption, the conservation of native flora and fauna, and its awareness raising activities. (UNWTO).
The Pacific islands lush and green landscapes is amongst the most pristine in the world. Unlike the rest of the globe, the Pacific has extremely limited capacity of land and forest, hence conservation of terrestrial ecosystems is critical. Sustainable tourism can be the tool to promote proper waste management and conservation of native plants and animals. Sustainable tourism can be the alternative source of revenue which can replace logging and other extractive industries.
Demonstrating green practices in the Pacific’s tourism sector can initiate wider ownership and change. Respect for nature is encouraged and promoted to tourists visiting the Pacific islands. The challenge is that every individual, every employee working in the tourism sector, every tourism business and every stakeholder should also take interest in the conservation of our precious yet fragile land and forest ecosystems that is essential for our future generations.