Samoa Tourism Stakeholders Participate in Sustainable Tourism Workshop
As part of the Samoa Tourism Authority’s (STA) continuous commitment to the sustainable development and protection of the natural wonders that draw visitors, a three day workshop for STA staff and tourism stakeholders was held at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) headquarters last week.
Facilitated by SPREP with input from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI), the objectives of the workshop was to help improve the knowledge and awareness of key stakeholders, members and staff in the importance of sustainable development, the use of sustainable planning tools as well as the roles and functions of the STA in line with the PUMA Act 2004.
In his presentation on Wednesday 2 March, STA Research and Statistics Manager, Kitiona Pogi said that despite the significant negative impacts of COVID-19 on tourism in the Pacific, the crisis has provided an opportunity to rethink tourism for the future.
"We often mention and talk about the term Sustainable tourism, but what does it really mean?” asked Mr Pogi “ It’s about developing and monitoring tourism development and activities in a responsible manner so as not to harm our environment and to ensure long term viability and preservation for our future generations."
"So how can tourism become more sustainable? Tourism can become more sustainable in the Pacific through improvements around Policies and Regulations to guide tourism development as it is crucial that policies are in place to guide development in the early planning phases of development. Proper environmental planning and all environmental conditions must be taken into account by developers."
Mr Pogi pointed out that tools such as the EIA Guidelines for Coastal tourism in Pacific Island Countries developed by SPREP and the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is a great starting point.
"It was identified that an integrated regional sustainable policy led by SPTO was needed in order to assist the region in becoming more sustainable," he said. "Following on from that, SPTO led the development of the Policy Framework and just last year the ‘Pacific Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework’ was endorsed by SPTO’s Council of Tourism Ministers in October.”
“The framework sets the foundation for the tourism sector to recover sustainably post COVID-19 and provides the road map for advancing the important priorities identified by Member Countries. Following the launch of this Framework, Samoa through the Honorable Minister signed the Statement of Commitment to the implementation of Sustainable Tourism in the Pacific by 2030.”
He said that in addition to the regional framework, in October 2021, the SPTO in partnership with the Travel Foundation and the US Embassy developed and launched a toolkit for small, medium and micro tourism enterprises in the Pacific to aid their recovery efforts from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
SPTO CEO Chris Cocker in his presentation identified examples of sustainable tourism efforts from across the region and praised Samoa for taking a step towards sustainable tourism development.
Reviewing the Pacific's vision in the Pacific Tourism Policy framework for the next ten years, Mr. Cocker said that by 2030 the Pacific islands will be empowered and benefitting from tourism that is resilient, prosperous and inclusive.
He added “This will also include the well-being of communities and restores our cultures, islands and ocean ecosystems, and our key assets in the Indo-Pacific which are the environment, ocean, culture, and people. This training is a true demonstration of commitment to tourism that is to accelerate climate action, protect our eco-systems and support resilience."