$3.74b forecast for Pacific tourism

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Tourism plays an important role in Pacific Island economies and is one of the region’s few economically viable sectors.


Apakuki Tabuakuro serves the Ashman family of Toowoomba, Australia at his stall in Suva yesterday. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

A NEW World Bank report says careful and sustainable planning around emerging tourism markets could help Pacific Island countries gain as much as $US1.8 billion ($F3.74b) per year in additional revenue and create up to 128,000 additional jobs by 2040.

The Pacific Possible: Tourism report, which was released for public comment early this month at the annual board meeting of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, outlines a plan for long-term, balanced and manageable tourism growth to the year 2040.

The report recommends four key strategy areas for attention:

* Improving international transport links to the region;

* Attracting higher-spending tourists;

* Improved public sector engagement; and

* Improving linkages between tourism and local economies.

“Tourism is one of the Pacific region’s most economically viable sectors with significant opportunities for sustainable growth in the Chinese tourist, cruise ship, luxury travel and retiree markets,” said John Perrottet, report author and senior technical specialist at the World Bank.

“By taking a targeted approach to tourism development, Pacific Island countries can ensure visitor numbers are kept at sustainable levels, while attracting higher-spending tourists helping to protect the precious natural environment and cultural heritage that make this region so special,” Mr Perrottet said in a statement

Tourism plays an important role in Pacific Island economies and is one of the region’s few economically viable sectors.

Total tourism spending in Pacific Island countries for 2013 amounted to US$1.4 billion.

In 2014, a record 1.37 million overnight visitors arrived across eleven Pacific Island countries, with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu making up the top five destinations. Two thirds of visitors travelling to Pacific Island countries are from Australia and New Zealand, while the United States, China, Japan and Europe represent significant growth potential.

“Tourism has a multiplier effect in local economies, helping to boost business activity and the livelihoods of people working in various other industries, including agriculture and retail,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank country director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands.

“We hope this report will assist Pacific Island governments in sustainable planning for more tourism arrivals from both existing and emerging tourism markets,” said Mr Drees-Gross.

The report is the third of seven in the World Bank’s Pacific Possible series, which looks at potentially transformative opportunities for Pacific Island countries that warrant further research, understanding and policy action.

The series aims to inform government and stakeholder decisions on planning and long-term decision-making.

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