Call for Pacific tourism to diversify as Covid-19 cripples industry

Joseph Cella. Photo: Supplied/US Embassy, Suva

Pacific nations and territories have been urged to diversify their tourism sector to meet new market demands amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, tourism in the region received a boost with an economic-resilience grant of almost $US20,000 from the United States.

Accepting the donation, head of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Chris Cocker said the funds can help implement effective responses to the industry.

Cocker said the grant will also strengthen the islands’ tourism connections with the US market.

“Through this grant funding, the SPTO and the Travel Foundation, which is an NGO, in this case, will be working collaboratively to develop a practical toolkit to help the region’s SME’s adapt and connect successfully with the US and other international markets.”

“These businesses will be encouraged and supported to implement this knowledge through virtual workshops, and opportunities for business links.”

Coker said the US assistance is timely as 95 percent of the Pacific tourism industry has been crippled by the pandemic.

US Ambassador to Nauru, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati and Fiji Joseph Cella said his government aimed to promote economic growth and build a robust trade relationship with the Pacific.

Cella said the US supported local tourism organizations to overcome the economic adversities caused by the pandemic.

“To build the capacity to engage in the new reality that we’re facing for tourists following this pandemic. And in the long-term, this will help get them footed for further innovation and adaptation.”

Cella said the SPTO is the sixth organization to share almost $US175,000 in grants allocated to assist Pacific projects related to developing tourism, entrepreneurship and trade with the US.

Source: RNZ