Smaller Island States (SIS) members of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) have identified critical areas where development assistance and regional partnerships are needed to strengthen sustainable tourism development in their respective countries. At a meeting between the SPTO and SIS members convened in Port Vila, Vanuatu, the countries agreed on a number of priorities including tourism marketing, capacity building, cruise tourism development, air and sea links and tourism investment, to name a few. These priorities have been identified as crucial areas requiring development and funding support and the SPTO has been urged to explore news to support and collaborate with its SIS members which face unique vulnerabilities due to their remote location.
“This is the first time that SPTO has convened a meeting with our SIS members and I am really happy with the outcomes of the meeting, “SPTO CEO Christopher Cocker said. “In 2016, SIS leaders had agreed to adopt a new Regional Strategy for SIS as the platform to ensure greater influence and presence by the SIS in shaping the regional policy agenda and direction”.
“SPTO also recognizes the importance of our SIS members as large ocean states that are attractive tourist destinations and who have continued to receive growing visitor arrivals every year, despite their vulnerabilities”, he added.
“Through this meeting and future discussions that we will be having with our SIS members on a regular basis, SPTO will be better placed to provide the assistance and support they need. This committee will be a vehicle through which SPTO will address SIS priority needs”.
The meeting with SPTO was attended by representatives from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, the Republic of Marshall Islands and Samoa as Observer. The government of Niue is the chair of SPTO’s SIS Committee.