The South Pacific Tourism Organisation looks forward to more development in tourism for Melanesian countries following the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding with the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila.
The MoU is the first of its kind on tourism to be signed between the two organisations reflecting a new milestone for engagement in a meaningful way. MSG Acting Director General, Peter Eafeare made these observations during the signing and highlighted the MOU as not just a piece of paper but one that would lead to the implementation of the collaborative activities outlined.
The organisations are expected to work together to collaborate and partner in tourism planning, tourism policy making; environmental and commercial sustainability, information and data sharing, on event planning and organization, shared product development and marketing and networking. The MoU also makes reference to collaboration with airlines on product development and packaging and capacity building and training as well as MSG research.
The MoU clearly outlines genuine partnerships, mutual recognition and respect, a joint team approach and the sharing of information as Principles of Cooperation and is expected to guide the relationship between the two organisations for the next 5 years.
“MOUs are important to bring together parties to strengthen parties and the key is walking the talk and implementing the key activities agreed upon by both parties,” SPTO CEO Chris Cocker said.
“Tourism involves the Pacific’s greatest assets – people, environment and culture – and has great potential for the Pacific as highlighted in the World Bank’s Pacific Possible report launched in Samoa in September.”
“Tourism is also important because of its linkage to Fisheries and Agriculture sectors as it has been the backbone of our communities in the past”
“Regional Visitor Arrivals in 2016 recorded at 2 million which is a 4% growth from the 1.6 million in 2015, higher than the world average growth rate of 3.9%.”
“The Pacific is blessed as we are custodians of beautiful land, ocean, people, given through birth and inheritance for our sustenance and also to preserve it”.
He highlighted the great potential for Solomon Islands and PNG in the area of cruise tourism and niche tourism, learning from Fiji’s example which currently have 40% of the Pacific’s regional market share.
“We would like to see more development and promotion of food tourism, eco-tourism, etc, as niche tourism products as we cannot compete with just “sand, sea and sun,” he added.
Mr. Eafeare noted the importance of information sharing and ensuring that airlines are not using commercial viability as an excuse not to connect.