Biodiversity & Ecosystem Management Headlines

Our Ocean and Tourism: Pacific Conversations with SPREP

In June this year, the Pacific islands are amplifying their voice at the United Nations Ocean Conference at the UN Headquarters in New York, focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life Below Water.

This Pacific Conversation raises the role of our Pacific Ocean in Tourism, providing you with more information to help make a difference in our region.

Did you know that one in every 12 jobs in the world is in the tourism industry? And tourism is growing, faster than most other economic sectors.

There are two striking parts of that growth. Visitors from emerging economies now represent almost half of international arrivals, and ecotourism and sustainable tourism are the hottest draws.

Sustainable tourism seeks to do no harm, and ecotourism seeks to promote conservation and deliver economic benefits to communities – both plus factors all round.

IMG 1192 copySnorkelling in Tahiti. Photo courtesy of Talissa Koteka.

Many people come to see natural environments and species. When we make the right choices to support our ecosystems, we create positive growth for ourselves and our visitors.

Coral reefs attract 350 million people and drive over USD 30 billion each year in tourism revenue globally. Diving with sharks and whales drives multi-million dollar Pacific industries. In Palau, a shark brings an estimated USD 1.9 million over its lifetime. The shark dive tourism in Fiji is estimated to bring in USD 42.2 million annually.

As tourism grows in our Pacific region, factoring in the impacts upon our environment when overseeing development to accommodate the larger numbers should be a consideration. For example, studies show that each year, coastal wetland destruction releases 0.15 to 1.02 billion tonnes of CO2 – this is the same as burning 423 billion litres of petrol, more than the entire commercial airline industry uses in a year!

Healthy environments benefit us all, and 2017 is a great year to have this Pacific Conversation, having been declared as the Year of Sustainable Tourism by the UN General Assembly.

As a tourist or host, when you use eco-friendly products, buy local, and ensure a balance between development and conservation, you are saving the ocean—and saving us too.

Help give voice to this Pacific Conversation – more about ocean-friendly tourism in the Pacific can be found here.

Take time for two pages for the ocean: check out UNEP and SPREP Factsheets here.

Join in the Pacific Conversation,
#SaveOurOcean #4PacIslands
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