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Tourism practitioners from Island destinations deliberate on critical challenges and opportunities for a better type of tourism

The second convening of the Communities of Practice for Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism and Climate Data was held 23rd – 25th April in Honolulu, Hawaii. Organised by the Local2030 Islands Network and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, the event drew participants from around the world.

Representatives from the Pacific include the Pacific Tourism Organisation, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga, Aotearoa, and Australia gathered alongside delegates from the Caribbean, Africa, and the Americas. This diverse assembly of over 100 practitioners enriched discussions and facilitated knowledge exchange.

SPTO Sustainable Tourism Manager Christina Leala-Gale and Jeremy Goodwin, Regenerative Tourism Manager of Cook Islands Tourism had the opportunity to present at the event.  The tourism session explored critical issues and opportunities for collaboration. Key takeaways included discussions with NOAA on future collaboration on Climate Resilience for the Pacific tourism sector.  The successful Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Connect Programme administered and supported by NOAA in the Caribbean underscored the role of tourism in conserving marine ecosystems. This narrative resonated strongly as the Pacific region works towards finalising the Pacific Marine Tourism Guidelines.

Discussions also delved into global tourism taxation approaches, financing opportunities, and adaptable regional and national standards and certification frameworks, with a focus on recognising the unique context of island destinations and capacity of SMEs within the tourism sector.

Additionally, the meeting also addressed the increasing challenges of waste management and the need to support circular economies, carrying capacities, cruise tourism, effective and meaningful stakeholder engagement, fit for purpose platforms for sharing information and knowledge across islands alongside the growing role of philanthropic support in driving community development initiatives through tourism.  The gathering also emphasised the symbiotic relationship between tourism and the agriculture sector and stressed the need for heightened collaboration for destination development and management.

Bilateral meetings, including a special convening of island representatives attending the Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) Meeting in Antigua and Barbuda, provided opportunities for focused discussions and strategic partnerships.  Participants had the opportunity to visit the Bishop Museum and participate in a tree planting activity.

Source: Christina Leala-Gale, Manager Sustainable Tourism – SPTO

Photo Credit Samantha Happ Local2030 Islands Network 

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