Tourism set to grow in the Pacific

Tourism in the Pacific is increasing, with the growth in arrivals expected to accelerate until 2025. Visitor numbers across six Pacific nations have increased by nearly 50 per cent during the decade 2005–2015.

A report, Tourism as a driver of growth in the Pacific, published by the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative, noted that “Tourism will be one of the most important drivers of economic growth in the Pacific over the next decade.”

The growth of tourism in the Pacific could help Pacific nations become self-sufficient in funding national objectives such as improved health services, education and transport. Along with generating employment and income growth across the region, tourism development can also serve as a catalyst and source of funding for the protection and preservation of natural and cultural assets. The report noted an increased demand for authentic cultural and natural experiences:

“The preservation and protection of natural and cultural assets is a priority in an age of increasing homogenization of visitor experiences.”

Despite the increase in visitor arrivals to the Pacific, the report warned that tourism growth is not inevitable and highlighted the importance of having an enabling environment to facilitate tourism growth and maximise its benefits. To achieve this, both public and private sector engagement is vital with investment in infrastructure, human resources, and product development and marketing, as well as ensuring that tourism policy, strategy and the regulatory environment are designed to grow the sector sustainably. Highlighting that Pacific tourism depends on a triple bottom line of sustainability: sociocultural assets, environmental assets and financial stability.

The rise of tourism in the Pacific can be seen to have been positively impacted by the digital transformation and disruption of tourism sector, which has opened up opportunities for local tourism operators to engage and reach international tourists. Where previously only large tourism operators could afford to have an online presence and market to international audiences, the rise of new platforms and the increasing accessibility of digital technologies is enabling small, local operators to also engage international markets.

PTI Australia’s Digital Tourism Program was established in 2012 to provide local tourism operators in the Pacific the skills and access to take advantage of digital technologies to grow their business. The program continues to go from strength to strength. In the past six months, PTI Australia’s Digital Tourism Workshops have been conducted in Niue and Solomon Islands, with further workshops planned in the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea later this year. So far in 2018, PTI Australia’s program has generated in excess of A$4 million in bookings across 16 Pacific countries.

Read the full report by ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative here: Tourism as a driver of growth in the Pacific