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 16 of the SDGs which aims to PROMOTE PEACEFUL AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, PROVIDE ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR ALL AND BUILD EFFECTIVE, ACCOUNTABLE AND INCLUSIVE INSTITUTIONS AT ALL LEVELS
As tourism revolves around billions of encounters between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, the sector can foster multicultural and inter-faith tolerance and understanding, laying the foundation for more peaceful societies. Sustainable tourism which benefits and engages local communities, can also provide a source of livelihood, strengthen cultural identities and spur entrepreneurial activities, thereby helping to prevent violence and conflict to take root and consolidate peace in post-conflict societies. (UNWTO).
The Pacific surpassed the 2 million visitor arrivals mark in 2016 and growth is forecasted to increase in the coming years. The future is looking promising for the sector, meaning there will be increasing employment and livelihood opportunities for Pacific people and private sector. At the same time, future growth gives the Pacific an opportunity to build a society that is founded on peace, love and respect. It is often the spiritual and cultural values that unites the Pacific.
Sustainable tourism in the Pacific is therefore a tool for development that benefits Pacific people, villages and national economies. It can indirectly support efforts in preventing violence and bringing communities, institutions and businesses together so that no one is left behind. The challenge for the region is to recognise and appreciate the value of sustainable tourism in creating positive change not only amongst our own people but also our visitors from different walks of life who have come to witness and share the beauty of the Pacific.