(S.T.A) A delegation led by the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) consisting of So’oalo Roger Stanley, Principal Policy Analyst a representative from Samoa Hotel Association (SHA) Mr Nelson Taitai Annandale an Officer of the Salafai Samoa Tourism Association (SSTA) from Savaii Ms Toreka Nive Margraf attended a seminar on “Poverty Reduction through Ecological Development and Tourism for Developing Countries in 2017” in Beijing, China.
It was hosted by China’s International Poverty Reduction Centre in China (IPRCC).
Samoa was the only Pacific country represented at this seminar amongst other participants from Asia, Africa and Central America.
The seminar was aimed at promoting policy and experience sharing between China and developing countries in the field of poverty-alleviation-oriented ecological development and tourism, analysis of relevant problems and challenges and to explore ways for developing countries to enhance the development capacity of poor areas.
The main theme areas of discussions were "The Formulation and Implementation of China's Rural Development Policy ", "China's Economic Outlook during the 13th current Five-Year Plan" ending 2020, "Introduction to China's Policy and Practices on Rural-tourism-based Poverty Reduction", "China’s Environmental Protection for Sustainable Development", "Ecological Protection and Rural Development in China", "Tourism-based Poverty Reduction Case Study" including onsite visits to areas where Poverty was mostly dominant. According to So’oalo, “Great models were shared and discussed mainly in areas of ecological and tourism development in order to alleviate poverty in rural areas”.
“The Central Government of the People’s Republic of China had taken the lead over the years in promoting policies and providing the much needed support in terms of funds, resources and expertise to combat poverty and they are aiming at getting everyone out of poverty by the year 2020.
Surely they will achieve that goal with no doubt given the rapid growth in China’s economy nowadays since its Open Up Policy in 1978.”
So’oalo further explained, “It is amazing how they have the best model and best practices in place and most of all, the Infrastructure as I believe everything will follow through only when the right infrastructure is in place both for Tourism and Ecological Development.
“Samoa has used similar practices if not all, given the mechanisms in place both at central government and community levels. It is just a matter of providing that much needed assistance and support in terms of funds and infrastructure and to change the mentality of our people to stop depending on Government to direct them where to find employment and enhance one’s life.
There is a need to be creative, work hard and to become independent. We have no excuse given mass lands that are underdeveloped - something that some developed countries like Hong Kong and Singapore do not have enough of.
“For our country presentation, we had the Case Study of Poutasi Village Development as one of our best practice and models at community level with the sole aim of addressing poverty at the village level.
There were so many products and harvests developed and both tourism and ecological development are addressed by this project, thanks to the great leadership of Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale and the village of Poutasi.
“Special thanks and appreciation to the government of the People’s Republic of China for the opportunity given to us and the Samoa tourism industry but the only regret was having a small delegation from Samoa and Pacific Region. However, it was a great experience and learning for all three of us.”