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“If the huge potential of tourism is to be harnessed more effectively, then we are to identify and commit to priority areas of development in tourism, but must do so in a manageable and sustainable manner, both at national and regional levels,”
Opening the 23rd Council of Tourism Ministers Meeting in Apia, Samoan Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi also said in that regard, there are a number of critical issues to consider, including key cross cutting issues, such as energy efficiency, water and sanitation, solid waste management, climate change adaptation and environmental conservation initiatives.
He applauded the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) for its role in helping develop sustainable tourism in the region.
“The SPTO is also best placed to collaborate with development partners and CROP agencies, such as SPREP, to help develop sustainable tourism in our region and harness the untapped opportunities this sector offers,” he said.
SPTO Chairlady, Matatamalii Sonja Hunter said the new record number of tourism arrivals in the region achieved in 2012 at 1.56 million visitors, a 2% growth over the old record set in 2011 of 1.53 million is welcomed.
“Whilst we are happy with this increase we also recognise the untapped potential of tourism in our region with significant possibilities for sustainable growth. To facilitate and take advantage of these possibilities, the tourism offices are working collaboratively with SPTO to tackle agreed issues and constraints at the regional level and now through the development of a Pacific Regional Tourism Strategy,” she said.
She highlighted that it is on the regional level that the outcomes of the Forum Economic Ministers meeting in Tonga in June this year, and at the Smaller Island States Leaders meeting and Forum Leaders meeting both held in Majuro in September this year, of which all had focused on TOURISM as the hope for the livelihoods and the sustainable economic development of our nations.
“The funding support by the European Union through the Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Programme (PRTCBP) has brought about much welcome relief with development support at a regional level to complement our initiatives at national levels. We are grateful to the European Union and thank them for this support,” she said.
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