The Small Island Tourism (SITC) Conference recently held in Champagne Beach, Santo was officially opened by the Head of State, Pastor, President Moses Talis Obed on Wednesday last week.
Amidst a crowd of 200 delegates comprising of representatives coming as far as the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific including also experts and consultants specializing in different aspects of sustainable tourism who are making major contributions to the conference.
In his address to the conference delegates, President Tallis while commending Vanuatu for hosting such a conference spoke eloquently about the need to preserve environment and culture and the values of Vanuatu tradition and culture while attempting to facilitate big investment projects in the island.
He cautioned both the land owners and the investors the vigilant and conscious about the importance to strike a balance between constructing and developing big hotels on the one hand and also the need to strike a balance on natural eco-system on the environment is not adversely compromised.
In his short presentation to the conference, the Director General for Tourism and Trade, Roy Mickey Joy underscores the importance of South South Cooperation as a development nexus to sustainable tourism within the Small Island Development States (SIDS) within the Samoa Pathway Framework of 2014.
He spoke and encourages participants to unite themselves together drawing on the example of the ACP Cotonou Partnership Agreement where clear provisions are made for both the African and the Caribbean and Pacific Group of States should unite to work together to achieve prosperity and wealth as well as the development projects in their own respective regions.
He further underscored the fact that although these islands comprises the SIDS framework are clearly articulated in the ACP-EU Convention, there is in fact nothing established through agreements or special arrangement in terms of sustainable tourism between the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean islands that could be a catalyst and a platform to coordinate facilitate and drive the tourism industry forward.
“As small islands states, we should be leading the global movement on sustainable tourism, and we can only do this and achieve this by creating a block and creating alliances with a view to have a united voice on global tourism issues.
“The characteristics in the Caribbean, in the Indian Ocean and even in the Pacific are very similar and that is the sun, access to white sandy beaches surrounded by coconut trees and palms and lovely friendly people with smiles,” DG Joy challenged the conference.
He said the current conference should not be a talkfest but an opportunity for SIDS members and states to produce a tangible outcome from the conference that can be used as a platform to forge further relationships and be used as policy tool for development cooperation purposes, reinforcing the need for SIDS member countries to become more visible and to develop joint projects for funding purposes.
The three-day conference concluded on Friday with a blueprint document, producing sets of recommendation calling for greater cohesion and unity among the SIDS island states and reaffirming the participation of various international stakeholders in promoting and supporting various sustainable tourism activities in the islands.
It is expected the outcome of the conference should complement Vanuatu’s NSDP Goals 2015 – 2030 and reinforces Vanuatu’s tourism master plan objectives and goals.