Kioa is a little paradise off the coast of Fiji’s second biggest island Vanua Levu, and its owners believe there is tourism potential on the island.
Kioa is owned by the Vaitupu clan of Tuvalu but is governed under the laws of Fiji. In 1946, 37 members of the Vaitupu clan came to Fiji in search of greener pastures and purchased the island from the money earned by doing work for American Armed Forces during World War II.
Now with over 400 residents on the island, the Tuvaluans are exploring possible development opportunities in the tourism market.
The Kioa island community with the help of South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) held a community consultation and tourism awareness with a purpose to develop the Kioa community tourism plan.
SPTO manager for sustainable tourism Christina Gale emphasised the importance of linking community tourism plans to national and regional strategies.
“The Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework provides guidance for the sector and will be instrumental in supporting the aspirations of Kioa.
Ms Gale said during the site visit several tourism sites were identified which can be developed into interesting tourism products.
“Aside from that, Kioa’s rich cultural history could definitely attract niche segments interested in venturing off the beaten track.
“Community tourism initiatives are unique in that they are driven by the resource owners. As such, we had discussions on the need for community ownership by engaging early on in the planning process.
“This is important because it not only ensures sustainability but also makes tourism accountable for the impacts it may bring to natural resources, local customs and traditions, “Ms Gale said.
One of the participants was the women’s group who discussed the need to maximise traditional handicraft craft skills, open business ventures, and liaise with authorities on marketing, training, and how to safeguard their environment from the impacts of tourism.
SPTO CEO Christopher Cocker reiterated the importance of sustainable tourism at a community level and the need for it to be replicated in other member countries.
“The goal of sustainable tourism initiatives is to ensure that local communities are receiving fair returns from tourism whilst also protecting their natural resources, culture and history for the benefit of future generations,“ Mr Cocker said.