Advancing Financial Management of Pacific Tourism Operators

Understanding Your Business Financials Session

With international borders still closed due to COVID-19, Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia, the Pacific region’s lead trade and investment promotion agency, has committed to upskilling tourism operators and providing practical tools to support businesses. Last week PTI Australia held an interactive online workshop for Pacific tourism operators to better understand their business financials.

The highly engaged session was led by Alice Niumata-Leota, a certified public accountant in Samoa and Australia, offering 15 years of professional accounting and management experience.

As a Business Link Pacific (BLP) approved advisor, Alice offers services in strategy and business planning, information technology systems, accounting, financial management and loan facilitation to SMEs based in Samoa.

The tailored workshop with over 40 tourism operators from across the Blue Pacific focussed on financial reporting tools, business plan tools and cashflow forecasts to better analyse and understand business issues and opportunities.

Alice said the turnout and interaction from participants indicated the importance of understanding financials for tourism operators which for smaller operators can often be overlooked due to perceived complexity or cost.

“Interpreting your business financial reports is essential for all business. Good business decisions cannot be made without first knowing the performance and cashflows of your business. Being able to use that intel and knowledge to make wise business decisions and to strategise for the future is key. This is especially important for the Pacific tourism sector as they navigate how to bounce back from COVID-19.”

Irene Olkeriil of EmeralDreams Services in Palau attended the session and said the workshops provided her with practical tools to make informed decisions as to the future of her business.

“As a small business owner in Palau, providing accommodation and space rentals for tourists, I along with many others in the tourism-related sector are suffering immensely from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the closed international borders. However, on the bright side, these virtual workshops from PTI Australia bring real valuable information that continues to give us hope for the future.

“After PTI Australia’s Financial Workshop, I have more specific understanding about my small business’ profit and loss statement, balance sheet and cashflow statement, all of which I have to produce for my lender. This understanding puts me in a better position to access assistance from the government.”

Onorina Fugawai, Tourism and Investment Project Officer at PTI Australia said the positive feedback from operators has been overwhelming.

“International borders have been closed for nearly a year and through our discussions with operators one of the areas that they said they wanted to understand more was finance. This is why we worked with BLP and Alice to bring to the Pacific a finance workshop tailored to the tourism sector. At a time where there’s still uncertainty its vital that we keep listening to tourism operators and deliver what they currently needed. The feedback we’ve received has been tremendous, and more importantly those that attended have said that they feel more confident in understanding some of the terminology and important figures to look at and track to understand the financial health of their business and plan for different scenarios.”

Founded in 1979, PTI Australia is an agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. Funded by the Australian Government, it facilitates trade and investment in the Pacific Islands.

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