The Samoa Tourism Sector is a core contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and small community and family managed operations, mainly beach fales, are recognized as highly vulnerable to the slow onset impacts of climate change.
The development of management plans integrating climate change adaptation, disaster risk management measures, and building on the community’s vision will help strengthen the resilience of these tourism-reliant communities and operators.
On Thursday night, at the conclusion of the 2016 Samoa Tourism Forum, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, launched the Management Plans for six Tourism Development Areas, focusing on small to medium tourism operators and the communities in which they operate. The Tourist Development Areas have potential to expand tourism but are, nevertheless vulnerable to impacts of climate change.
The Prime Minister said in his keynote address that he is looking forward to seeing the recommendations and best practices implemented in order to enhance resilience in the tourism-reliant communities before the next tourism forum in 2017. He conveyed his best wishes for this work to improve economic livelihoods in the tourism sector.
UNDP Resident Coordinator, Ms. Lizbeth Cullity said the adaptive measures identified in the management plans to improve resilience were developed in close consultation with the communities. The focus is on these communities taking ownership of the plans to enhance the resilience of their operations and improve their livelihoods.
The development of the management plans is a part of the Enhancing the Resilience of Tourism-Reliant Communities to Climate Change Risks Project, being implemented by the Samoa Tourism Authority with financial assistance from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through UNDP.
The Management Plans are also supported by the Samoan Tourism Authority’s Technical Guidelines for Tourism Operators. A key climate change concern common amongst these tourism development areas is exposure to high seas and storm surge, which is evident along the Manase shoreline. Tourism operators located along coastline want improved protection and safeguards for their environment and their communities.