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DESTINATION FOCUS: Samoa forms destination partnership to boost sustainable tourism across South Pacific

October 9, 2014 Destination Global No Comments Email Email

The Pacific island of Samoa has become the founding destination partner in the largest ever public/private initiative to focus on destination sustainability in the South Pacific.

The newly launched South Pacific Destination Alliance (SPDA) brings together islands across the region with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltdto foster the growth of sustainable tourism. “This is a natural next step for us to support our goal of becoming a regional leader in sustainable tourism, said Sonja Hunter, CEO of Samoa Tourism Authority. “We look forward to collaborating with our fellow South Pacific destinations to write a new chapter for the region focused on long-term health and viability.”

The plan is to work initially with up to six other islands in the South Pacific, expanding the alliance to include more than 10 destinations by 2017. The SPDA will commence by providing whichever destinations get involved with support for efforts to develop sustainable tourism, done through implementing Sustainable Travel International’s Sustainable Destination Toolkit.

As part of this process, each participating destination will undertake a thorough evaluation of its management practices so as to develop a plan that will address their most pressing needs. Destinations will also commit to tracking their progress across a range of key indicators, and share lessons and results with other partners. “Our vision has always been to harness the power of travel and tourism as a force for good,” shared Sustainable Travel International’s President, Dr. Louise Twining-Ward. “This alliance represents our latest effort to convene leading organizations in support of the people whose lives are so deeply connected to the long-term health of the tourism industry.”
Corporate, destination, donor, and trade association partners interested in joining the Alliance should contact Jeremy Sampson at jeremys@sustainabletravel.org.

New Tourism for Tomorrow Awards video gives advice on entering

Tourism for Tomorrow Judges: Fiona Jeffery and Graham Miller

We’ve released a short video with a few tips on how to make your entry stand out from the crowd for this year’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. In the video, the Awards Chair Fiona Jeffrey and the lead judge Graham Miller share some advice on creating an impactful submission.

They advise that you focus on your impact to the community and the environment where you work; show how you engage with tourists and other stakeholders; demonstrate how you have implemented your plans; provide information on how you measure and report your effectiveness; and lastly, share your passion and creativity with the judges.

And remember all submissions must be in by 14 November 2014. To apply go to our online application tool. You can watch the full video with Fiona and Geoff’s advice here: Tips for applying to the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards

UNWTO calls on island hotels to support renewable energy

From Aruba to Zanzibar, many islands around the world rely on tourism for much of their GDP. Some 41 million international tourists visited Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2013, bringing them US$ 61 billion. However, because these islands are by their very nature remote, often extremely so, this inward investment comes at a cost to the environment.

UNWTO and IRENA launch partnership

First, the tourists predominantly arrive by air, itself a significant contributor to climate change. Secondly, servicing their guests’ needs whilst on holiday –  along with those of the resident population throughout the year – demands a lot of energy. Yet, despite efforts to increase energy efficiency, on average these small islands are facing increasingly high energy costs as they still rely predominantly on ever more costly imported diesel fuel. Currently more than 90% of SIDS energy comes from oil imports, and this represent up to 20% of their annual imports.

A significant step towards addressing these intertwined issues has just been made, however, at the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, which took place in September. At the conference the UNWTO and the International Renewable Energy Agency, which supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, partnered to promote the use of renewable energies on small islands around the world.

In a Joint Statement on Renewable Energy and Tourism in Islands, the two bodies announced that they were committed to stimulating investment in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions so as to lessen these islands need to rely on fossil fuels. They then called on the islands’ hotels to document their energy savings and cost reductions from such efforts and to share their findings with one another through the Global Renewable Energy Islands Network.

“Investment by island hotels is vital to demonstrating the business case for renewable energy, which is essential to addressing the burden of costly fossil fuels that inhibits islands’ economic and social development,” said IRENA Director-General, Adnan Amin, while signing the Statement. His views were supported by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai who added: “Tourism is a primary economic sector for many SIDS and a dominant force driving inclusive socio-economic growth. Yet, sustainable tourism development in small islands continues to face many challenges; one of the major ones is their high dependence on fossil fuel. The synergy of tourism and renewable energy represents a powerful force that will pave the way for win-win solutions in driving the sustainable agenda of islands forward.”

Written and edited by Jeremy Smith

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