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The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) has congratulated current Board member for Tonga and the outgoing Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Tourism Tonga, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, on her recent appointment as the United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States.
‘Utoikamanu’s appointment was announced by the United Nations Secretary General last week (April 12th). She becomes the first Pacific Islander to be appointed to such a high level position within the UN at Under Secretary General level. She succeeds Gyan Chandra Acharya of Nepal who held the position since 2012.
A press statement released by the OHRLLS highlighted ‘Utoikamanu’s wealth of national, regional and international experience at various senior leadership levels, with a strategic perspective for the mandate of the OHRLLS and for building consensus among key stakeholders.
‘Utoikamanu’s appointment augurs well for SPTO and for women in tourism in the region as it means the presence of an advocate for tourism development at a high level within the United Nations. Her short stint as Acting CEO, Ministry of Tourism in Tonga, a role she took up in January 2017, has enabled her to see the great potential that tourism offers for Tonga and Pacific Island countries and is expected to enhance her contributions to tourism development from a global level.
“We are very excited about the appointment and we look forward to supporting ‘Utoikamanu in her new appointment,” SPTO CEO Chris Cocker said.
“Her contributions and support for SPTO as a Board member has been extremely valuable and we look forward to continuing this relationship in her new appointment,Cocker said
“I am also excited that a Pacific woman has secured this job because SPTO is a strong advocate of women playing an important role in Tourism,” Cocker added.
On a brief visit to the SPTO office in Suva, following the announcement of her appointment, ‘Utoikamanu said she was looking forward to the new role.
Through the office of OHRLLS,‘Utoikamanu, will advocate and provide support to 92 countries within the Least Developed Countries group, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and Landlocked Developing Countries group.
“The work in the SIDS is driven by the Samoan Pathway Plan of Action which has specific language about tourism incorporated into it and provides the basis of the advocacy and support for the work on tourism from that high level,” ‘Utoikamanu said.
“During my term as CEO for the Ministry of Tourism in Tonga, I was able to see how high level commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals have been integrated at a national level and sector level activities, so it has been useful to have specific experience on the integration of global to local,” she added
‘Utoikamanu was previously Acting Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (2015), Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (2009-2016), Deputy Director General and Director of Education, Training and Human Development of the Secretariat of Pacific Community (2009-2015), Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the Government of Tonga to the United Nations, United States of America, Cuba and Venezuela and High Commissioner to Canada (2005-2009), and Secretary for Foreign Affairs and European Commission’s National Authorising Officer for Tonga (2002-2005).
Utoikamanu holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics (1980), and a Masters in Commerce in Economics (1983) from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
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