SPTO is the regional body mandated to promote and develop tourism in and for Pacific Island countries. The region’s tourism destinations depend on the natural environment as their core asset, and the environment is very sensitive to climate variability and change. Climate change is expected to impact environmental resources that are critical attractions for tourism, such as coastlines (e.g. beaches and mangroves), wildlife (e.g. bird watching, whale watching) and biodiversity.
Since the environment is such a critical resource for tourism, climate induced environmental changes will have profound effects on tourism at the destination and regional level. The territory of SPTO member countries includes tiny atoll islands, which are highly vulnerable to sea level rises. Climate change impacts, which could include changes in water availability, biodiversity loss, reduction of the natural beauty of landscapes, increased natural hazards, coastal erosion and inundation, damage to infrastructure and the increasing incidence of vector borne diseases, will all impact tourism to varying degrees.
SPTO’s role is to provide the following interventions to the region’s tourism industry:
I. Awareness – conducting workshops and educational programmes on climate change and its impact. These awareness programmes will be in the form of training and advocacy initiatives to share information on the impact of climate change on the tourism industry.
II. Mainstreaming – assisting national governments and tourism departments to include climate change in their tourism development policies. This includes facilitation and taking on an advisory role in initiatives that relate to tourism development planning.
III. Adaptation – working with other CROP agencies to deliver technical assistance to tourism industry operators on adaptation measures. SPTO will work closely with relevant organisations and other stakeholders that have programmes/activities impacting tourism development, such as SPC in the areas of renewable energy, water and sanitation etc.