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7 Nov, 2014

South Pacific islands tourism chiefs: Expect more projects in 2015

Wednesday, 05 November 2014, (source: SPTO press release) – Expect tourism projects that focus on more assistance and development support for tourism operators in the Pacific Island region.

These were the words of the Chief Executive of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation Ilisoni Vuidreketi at the end of the 24th Council of Ministers of Tourism meeting at the Fa’onelua Convention centre in Nuku’alofa this evening.


“As the Honourable Prime Minister of Tonga Lord Tu’ivakano said this morning – tourism is a number one revenue earner for the Kingdom and most SPTO member nations,” Mr Vuidreketi said.

“The Prime Minister also emphasised the need to take advantage of our development partners like the European Union to ensure we gain maximum benefit from their Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Programme.

“In nations like Tonga they benefit from projects like the Pacific chef culinary upskilling workshop which emphasises the use of local foods and links with the local agriculture industry – we have had strong participation from Tonga in the area of small and medium enterprise online bookings and they should benefit from Tonga’s latest information technology developments.

“These programmes upskill and help to improve the lives of the workers in our industry.”

The meeting appointed a new Council Chairman in host Hon. Dr. Viliami Latu, Minister for Tourism of Tonga; and was attended by the Hon. Ham Lini Vanuararoa, Deputy Prime Ministers and Minister for Tourism of Vanuatu; Hon. Rimeta Beniamina, Minister for Communications, Transport and Tourism Development of Kiribati; Hon. Thomas Heine, Minister for Transportation and Communications and Acting Minister for Resources and Development  of Marshall islands; and Hon. Lorna Eden, Assistant Minister for Tourism of Fiji.

The other government members that were represented by proxies included, American Samoa, China, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Opening the meeting Tonga’s Prime Minister Hon Lord Tu’ivakano said Tourism plays an integral role in the economic development of our member countries.

“In the majority of our Pacific Island countries the tourism sector is a major component of national GDP,” he said.  “It is the only economic sector in the Pacific to grow consistently across the region over the last five years. The sector has been identified by our respective governments as a priority sector for future economic growth through the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI), the generation of foreign exchange earnings, the stimulation of indigenous entrepreneurs and provision of employment and linkages to other sectors.

“Tourism cuts across many other sectors, creating the opportunity for extensive backward linkages to other sectors of our economies such as transport, agriculture and fisheries, arts and crafts, manufacture and offers a major potential market for, all these sectors.”

Lord Tu’ivakano said tourism was identified as the major economic development opportunity for the Kingdom of Tonga.

“It is our biggest export industry with potential to provide broad based employment and income generation, as well as support the retention of cultural traditions and the sustainable management of the nation’s environmental assets,” he said.

The 25th Tourism Council of Ministers will be held in French Polynesia next year.