Improving the tourism industry in the Pacific was top of the consultation agenda between the World Bank and the Samoa Tourism Industry Association (S.T.A.) on Friday.
Held in the Samoan fale at the S.T.A. grounds, the event was well-attended by members of the tourism sector in Samoa.
The gathering had the chance to listen to and see the draft of the “Pacific Possible: Tourism 2040” by the World Bank.
The launch of the draft report was held earlier last week in Australia, and the six weeks of consultations and discussions of the report has started.
Samoa is the first Pacific Island Country to discuss and give ideas for the final documentation of the Pacific Possible: Tourism 2040.
This final report will be finalized after all the consultations and it is expected to be completed in late July.
The two representatives from World Bank who presented the report to Samoa were Mr. John Perrottet and Mr. Benjamin W. Brighouse.
P.P.T. 2040 is a programme of dialogue and research on transformational long term economic opportunities. It covers Pacific member countries of the World Bank.
It aims at achieving higher economic growth and improved standards of living, which is a key challenge in the Pacific. According to Mr. John Perrottet, the World Bank’s main priority is alleviating poverty and providing prosperity for all.
And with tourism contributing in terms of economy development around the world, the World Bank is looking at taking the development of tourism to the next level.
“We are interested in tourism as an industry for it plays a role in alleviating poverty,” said Mr. Perrottet.
“In the case of the Pacific islands, we think that it has a very good potential to contribute in improving prosperity as it does to other parts of the world.”
Mr. Perrottet said the P.P.T. 2040 is one of the main reports they have of a total of seven reports by the World Bank for Pacific Island countries.
“The other six reports focus on different issues,” he said. “The issues that the World Bank thinks have the best chance of generating some sort of transformational trench.”
“The bottom line of this is: the growth of tourism in the Pacific is relatively low and if things continue the way they are, then I think that the growth is going to stay low.
So we are looking for the opportunities to increase and improve the growth of tourism within the Pacific. Tourism is the most significant sector which can really help improve in the economy of a country and we are looking at ways that can improve in this area.”
Mr. Perrottet admitted that putting together the draft of the report was not easy, with having access to data as the major challenge.
“There is really a lack of data in the Pacific and it’s a big challenge trying to collect good data for the report, and that’s understandable because these are small island nations and that is something we are hoping we can work on to improve in the future.”
He is positive that the benefits of the report are far reaching for the Pacific Island Countries.
“There is absolutely no reason why countries in the Pacific cannot improve and benefit from this report. That is also why we are having consultations before we finalise the report, so that we can the views and opinion of the people from the Pacific on what’s applicable to them and where exactly we can help them improve.”
Creating ways for the Pacific Island countries to attract more visitors to the Pacific is one of the priorities of the report.
“Part of the reasons why the Bank is undertaking this work is to not focus too much on the negative sides of things and look at the positive opportunities. The Pacific Island countries don’t have a lot of visitors. And to attract more visitors, we need to more sites, more access and improve connectivity and make things more attractive for the business community.”
The six themes included in the report are: Harness the riches of the Pacific Ocean, Managing increasing stress on Pacific livelihoods, Labor mobility, Working together, Hosting the world and Islands in a sea of knowledge.
Adele Kruse, the Chairperson of the Samoa Tourism Industry Association, spoke on the importance of the report saying that it falls in line with all the work being done by the S.T.I.A. in improving the tourism sector in Samoa.
“This report aligns with what we want to do in Samoa in the tourism industry,” she said.
“We want to do so many things to improve and to help the growth of the industry and most of those things are highlighted in this report. Consultations for the report are also good because we get to share our views and opinions and add onto the things that are already in the draft so that we can all benefit from it.”