Report shows encouraging signs

SOUTH Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) report shows encouraging signs for tourism in the region which recorded 406,990 tourists visiting the Pacific ACP and SPTO member countries representing a 5.7 per cent growth.

This was recorded in its second quarter quarterly review for this year.

“The report shows Fiji which has just completed a national election, recorded an increase of 7875 visitors, Palau increased by 7811, French Polynesia increased by 4575, Papua New Guinea increased by 1200, Vanuatu by 983 and Cook Islands by 895 for the period under review,” says SPTO CEO Ilisoni Vuidreketi.

However, he said the Solomon Islands, recorded a double digit decrease while performances of other countries in the region were mixed showing slight changes.

Mr Vuidreketi said as the figures spoke a thousand words, they had found that a majority of Pacific Island nations depended on tourism as their number one revenue earner and thus more efforts were diverted to developing the industry and its infrastructure.

“Therefore we humbly urge all the new governments and those proposing to lead to include tourism in their wish list for areas that need urgent attention so that the man on the street and our economy as a region benefits from our industry,” he said.

“The large hotels do a lot of work putting Fiji on the map and providing employment to locals around the nation, but the smaller hotels are the ones that are struggling to keep money circulating within their local vicinities thus contributing to generating more economic activity on the ground through diving, village visits, cultural exchanges and real Fijian food and hospitality.”

He said they were also following the elections in the Solomon Islands and Tonga where tourism ranks high in their economies.