Plans have been announced to reactivate and build a more resilient Pacific tourism sector to better tackle the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A greater emphasis will be placed on utilising digital technologies under a four-year transformation project to turn around the fortunes of the region’s bread earner.
The South Pacific Tourism Organisation said its recovery efforts is set to be accelerated further after member states lost hundreds of millions of dollars since March 2020 following the decline in visitor numbers by up to 90 per cent.
Pacific nations are beginning to remodel tourism development and marketing strategies through building online digital skills.
“The package of activity will be a game changer for Pacific tourism and will help place Pacific tourism in the best possible position for tourism recovery as borders reopen,” organisation chairman Halatoa Fua said.
“Small island developing states, especially, will gain benefit and this program lays the foundation for our industry to build back better, using digital transformation to support sustainable development practices and strengthen tourism research and statistics.”
The project will deliver a range of training and ongoing support for national tourism organisations in the Pacific, as well as supporting South Pacific Tourism Organisation-led projects in the areas of digital marketing, advocacy and communications, and sustainable development and research.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will provide $US2.9 million during 2022 until 2025 as it recognises tourism as a key driver of Pacific economic growth and prosperity.
Deputy secretary for the Pacific and Development Group, Jonathan Kings, acting on behalf of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that New Zealand has a strong focus on assisting the recovery of Pacific economies effected by the pandemic that underpins New Zealand’s place in and out of the region.
“COVID-19 has had a severe impact on tourism in the Pacific, and fresh-thinking and innovation will be critical as the industry adjusts to a post Covid-19 world,” Mr Kings said.
“Digital technology will be a vital component of building a more resilient future Pacific tourism sector, which in turn will help support the well-being of Pacific people.”
The organisation was first established in 1983 and represents 21 countries – including China – and has more than 200 private sector members.