The Pacific tourism industry took a step forward in protecting the integrity of the environment with the launch of the Environment Impact Assessment Guidelines for Coastal Tourism Development for the Pacific Islands and Territories, a document to enhance sustainable tourism development.
The document was launched at the South Pacific Tourism Board meeting in Apia held on Thursday 4 October, 2018, for which the theme is “Protecting our Blue Pacific, Our Livelihood and Our Home”.
Spearheaded by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in partnership with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), the document is an important tool to assist with making sound planning and informed decisions on sustainable development.
In Small Island Developing States (SIDS), tourism accounts for more than 25% of the national GDP.
Ensuring our environment is taken into consideration is a crucial feature in the growth and development of tourism which can lead to many benefits. Across the planet coral reefs attract 350 million people and drive over USD 30 billion each year in tourism revenue. In Palau, the lifetime value of a live shark is USD 1.9 million for dive tourism.
“We know that when our environment is looked after, we are well looked after also. As coastal tourism is a strong feature of our Pacific islands, we wanted to work with you to ensure any coastal tourism development is done well, leaving a legacy that a sustainable environment can provide,” said Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of SPREP.
“These guidelines highlight the importance of environmental impact assessment and impact management and mitigation for promoting sustainable tourism development and avoiding or minimising any potential damage to the environment and biodiversity.”
The guidelines support sustainable and resilient tourism development that protects environmental, social and cultural assets of coastal environments which provides the basis for the tourism industry in the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean is home to over half of the world’s whale and dolphin species. Whale-watching is a multi-million-dollar Pacific industry, with further potential.
“As tourism is projected to grow in the coming years, it is crucial that the Pacific takes full responsibility in ensuring that our environment, the land and ocean resources that we depend on for our tourism offering, are protected for future generations’ said Mr. Christopher Cocker, CEO of SPTO.
“Today is indeed a milestone of the SPTO-SPREP partnership. SPTO through its Sustainable Tourism Programme is committed to supporting the in-country work that is required in ensuring that the Guidelines are put into good use for planning coastal tourism developments.”
A sustainable environment is important in building Pacific resilience, safeguarding as much as possible the investment made into coastal tourism development. Coral reefs reduce the wave energy that reaches shores by greater than 95% on average. Maintaining healthy wetlands is the most cost-effective method of stabilising shorelines. Coral reef ecosystems including seagrass beds and mangrove areas provide carbon storage and are the most cost effective ways of stabilising shorelines.
In addition, these ecosystems provide food sources jobs and income to local ecocnomies. They improve water quality, support healthy fisheries, nursery habitat and breeding grounds to support fisheries. Coral reef ecosystems also provide a variety of recreational opportunities including snorkelling, recreational fishing and boating, and ecotourism.
The guidelines were developed with support from the European Union ACPMEA Phase 2 capacity building project.
To obtain a copy of the Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for Tourism Development in Pacific Island Countries and Territories please visit:
To learn more about the ACPMEAs project, please visit http://www.sprep.org/Projects/acp-meas-project.