APIA, Samoa – Tourism, vital to economic growth in the South Pacific region, also presents many small-island developing states with serious challenges, including the effects of climate change, and the need for protection of natural habitats, biodiversity, and cultures.
With these challenges in mind, several leading organizations have launched the South Pacific Destination Alliance (SPDA), to help the region protect its natural and cultural assets while enhancing livelihoods and ensuring its tourism destinations are nice places to live, work, and visit.
The SPDA was announced this past weekend at the 3rd International United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa, marking the largest-scale effort to date through which public and private entities have united to focus on destination sustainability in the South Pacific.
The Alliance includes leading global cruise vacation company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO), and global non-profit implementation partner Sustainable Travel International. Samoa is the alliance’s founding destination partner.
“Samoa is proud to continue our long-standing commitment to sustainable tourism through participation in this important new alliance,” said Sonja Hunter, CEO of Samoa Tourism Authority, which also announced over the weekend that it has become the South Pacific region’s first partner in the Sustainable Destination Leadership Network (SDLN), a global collaboration of destination management organizations and tourism administrations. “This is a natural next step for us to support our goal of becoming a regional leader in sustainable tourism, and we look forward to collaborating with our fellow South Pacific destinations to write a new chapter for the region focused on long-term health and viability.”
Added SPTO CEO Ilisoni Vuidreketi: “SPTO is mandated to promote and facilitate sustainable economic growth in member Pacific Island countries through sustainable tourism development. This Alliance will help boost SPTO’s initiatives, in the areas of destination marketing, tourism product development, best practices in sustainable tourism development, and capacity building for Governments and the private sector.”
The announcement is also the first step in an active effort to expand the SPDA to include more than 10 destinations between now and 2017. The SPDA is modeled after the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas, a groundbreaking alliance of public and private entities launched earlier this year to focus on destination sustainability in the Caribbean and adjacent Latin American countries.
“Ensuring that the destinations our ships visit are protected is important both for the people who live there and for our guests,” said Rich Pruitt, Vice President, Safety and Environmental Stewardship, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are serious about doing our part to keep destinations thriving, and we hope that as founding partners of both the South Pacific Destination Alliance and the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas, we will make it easy for others to join this movement.”
During the first phase of implementation, the SPDA will provide up to seven destinations in the South Pacific with significant support for their sustainability efforts, utilizing Sustainable Travel International’s Sustainable Destination Toolkit. Each participating destination will begin with a comprehensive evaluation of its management practices, designed to recognize areas of strength, and to identify areas in which they have the greatest opportunity to improve. An action agenda will then be developed to establish practical quick-win projects that will address the most pressing needs.
SPDA destinations also will commit to utilizing a destination monitoring system, which will support their tracking of key performance metrics and indicators and inform decision-making. Results, stories and lessons learned will be disseminated among all partners, and leveraged by destinations across the region to increase competitiveness and to foster greater understanding among destination decision-makers.
“Our vision has always been to harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good,” shared Sustainable Travel International’s President, Dr. Louise Twining-Ward. “This alliance represents our latest effort to convene leading organizations in support of the people whose lives are so deeply connected to the long-term health of the tourism industry.”
Corporate, destination, donor, and trade association partners interested in joining the Alliance should contact Jeremy Sampson at email@example.com.
Tourism destinations that wish to be considered for the in-depth, on-site assessments should contact Louise-Twining Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravel.org)
Sustainable Travel International is the world’s leading organization that is harnessing the power of travel and tourism as a force for good. We help communities, businesses and governments build a better future for themselves and their environments through travel and tourism.
Our vision has always been to harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good. Since our creation, we have dedicated ourselves to understanding the complexities of travel and tourism around the world and spent more than 10 years developing tools and partnerships that deliver on such ambitious goals.
Today, in response to urgent threats facing our planet, we are convening leading travel corporations and tourism destinations to scale-up our solutions in order to improve the lives of at least 10 million people over the next decade. Collectively, we are redefining global travel and tourism as a force for good.
About Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE, OSE: RCL) is a global cruise vacation company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Club Cruises and CDF Croisières de France, as well as TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture. Together, these six brands operate a combined total of 41 ships with an additional six under construction contracts. They operate diverse itineraries around the world that call on approximately 490 destinations on all seven continents. Additional information can be found on www.royalcaribbean.com, www.celebritycruises.com, www.pullmantur.es, www.azamaraclubcruises.com, www.cdfcroisieresdefrance.com or www.rclinvestor.com.
About the South Pacific Tourism Organization (www.spto.org)
Established in 1986, SPTO is the regional organization mandated by its 17 Pacific Island government members to promote and develop tourism in the Pacific region. In addition to government members, SPTO also has approximately 200 private sector members and the office is located in Suva, Fiji.
We develop and implement regional tourism programs in destination promotion, tourism product development, research and statistics, capacity building, and human resource development. These are targeted at helping national tourism offices, government agencies, and local communities and assisting the business growth of private sector tourism operators.
Our vision is to assist Pacific Island member countries in attaining sustainable economic growth through sustainable tourism development.