Communities in North Maewo have established a new tourism association called the North Maewo Tourism Association (NMTA).
PENAMA Tourism Officer, William Mala said the association which was established last month is one of the first to be established in the Gaiowo community.
Mr Mala said that with the establishment of the association, it is now the ‘eyes and the ears’ of the department of tourism on Maewo.
It will allow the PENAMA Tourism Office to liaise with the association to address any weaknesses the North Maewo communities have and also to deal with new uprising tourism operators in the community, who will be automatically be registered under the association.
The NMTA covers the far north of Maewo from Naumumu to Navenvene village. The association also links the area councils of Penama province. Mr Mala said that in regards to the decentralization process of the government to the rural areas, it has allowed for the association to link with area councils to address tourism matters.
Mr. Mala explained that before an association is formed one requirement needed is for an association to be formed if there are more than 5 to 6 tourism operators existing in the area confirming that North Maewo alone has 21 tourism operators.
“What the government is doing through the department of tourism is the Tourism minimum standard,” he said.
“It links the National Tourism head office to the PENAMA tourism office and from there it links with existing tourism associations to address and work with individual operators if they met the requirements within the minimum standards.
“The NMTA and community will work together to improve tourism development in North Maewo whereas for many years, only other islands have been developing and will definitely bring in benefits for the people and their community.
“The highest chief of Maewo, Rasa Ure has also given his blessings and said that he looks forward to the benefits that is in store for the people and the community.”
According to Mala, the NMTA’s first task is to conduct a meeting.
One of the plans is to address the Maewo Tourism Festival which will be organized this year.
It is to promote the rich culture of Maewo and natural tourist attractions within the communities.
Mr. Mala said that it is an opportunity for the people and the community to showcase their natural attractions and their rich cultural heritage.
The PENAMA tourism slogan ‘Where culture entwines nature’s discovery’ incorporates the uniqueness of PENAMA province. It is the focal point for every tourism development within the province.
“The slogan allows the PENAMA tourism office to address and develop the products and by linking them within the slogan in sustaining tourism developments in rural areas and at the same time on the national tourism scale,” he said.