Association welcomes focus on sustainable development in sector

Soo Yeon Jin from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN Italian Republic goes through some Fijian made products on display at the UNWTO Regional Seminar on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism Development at Sofitel Fiji Resort& Spa Denarau in Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH `

THE focus on sustainable development in the tourism sector by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation has been welcomed by the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto.

He said the tourism sector was an important income generating industry for the country that could play an important role in advocating sustainable development. “We in the developing nations in the Pacific are witnesses to the impacts of climate change, so for a global body to put that at the forefront of their discussions is very encouraging,” he said.

“It also reiterates the call for developing nations that depend on tourism to commit to policies that encourage sustainable development. “We also as a sector should be committed to protecting the environment and ensuring its preservation by investing in developments that focus on this issue. “I believe Fiji has made some great progress in this arena and we can do more to ensure the environment we market to our tourists and international visitors remains protected.”

Mr Seeto was one of many tourism stakeholders who attended the 30th Joint Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia and UNWTO Regional Seminar on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism Development in Nadi this week.

According to the United World Tourism Organisation’s World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew by 7 per cent in 2017 to reach a total of 1322 million.

The report by UNWTO general secretary Zurab Pololikashvili, stated that this was well above the sustained and consistent trend of 4 per cent since 2010 and represented the strongest results in seven years.

“The year 2017 was characterised by sustained growth in many destinations and a firm recovery in those that suffered decreases in previous years.

Results were partly shaped by the global economic upswing and the robust outbound demand from many traditional and emerging source markets, particularly a rebound in tourism spending from Brazil and the Russian Federation after a few years of declines,” the UNWTO report said.

“Led by Mediterranean destinations, Europe recorded extraordinary results for such a large and rather mature region, with 8 per cent more international arrivals than in 2016. “Asia and the Pacific recorded a 6 per cent growth, the Middle East 5 per cent and the Americas 3 per cent.”

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