TRC Tourism consultants Kylie Ruwhiu-Karawana and Natasha Paul recently ran a workshop with all staff of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) in Suva, Fiji . They presented and sought feedback on the initial outcomes of the organisational review we have been working on with SPTO staff and members.

The SPTO works alongside its 20 member countries to market the region and advocate, educate and build capacity to advance sustainable tourism in the Pacific. Tourism plays a critical role in the region’s economic development, and is major driver of economic growth, foreign exchange earnings and employment. SPTO initiated the review amidst the devastating effects ofthe COVID-19 pandemic on Pacific Tourism industries. The review was also a response to the significant work that has transformed Pacific tourism to empower the region and ensure it is benefitting from tourism that is resilient, prosperous and inclusive.

For tourism to improve the wellbeing of Pacific communities and to ensure it protects, restores and promotes its diverse cultures, islands and ocean ecosystems, organisations at the regional and national level need to have the mandate, focus and resources to support them in their efforts. The renewed focus on tourism as a tool for sustainable development in the region highlighted the need for a strategic review of the SPTO to ensure it is best positioned to serve its members with their diverse tourism development needs in the coming years, particularly as the Pacific tourism climate remains uncertain.

The SPTO and ADB’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) have partnered over the past few years on regional Pacific tourism studies, development of a framework for the safe reopening of Pacific tourism and crisis and resilience planning. Both organisations also have a strong commitment to the empowerment of women in the tourism industry across the Pacific. Through the support of the ADB PSDI initiative, TRC Tourism worked closely with SPTO staff to review and develop the organisation’s core competencies and refine their value proposition. This increases the SPTO’s capacity to support and broaden its member base and leverage the resources of partners and investors who can support the region’s ambitions. The goal was also to ensure financial resilience of the SPTO.

We conducted a desk-based study to review current and historic SPTO strategies, the current role of the organisation and the role of similar tourism bodies in other geographical regions. Internal consultations plus consultations with SPTO’s government members, regional CROP partners, other regional development and donor partners, and the private sector helped us understand SPTO’s current and potential value to members and to clearlyarticulate SPTO’s core competencies and value proposition.

Workshop participants discussed key recommendations from the organisational review that considered elements the SPTO should maintain and develop and other areas where it should increase its focus for the future success of the tourism industry in the Pacific region.

TRC is proud of the work our team is doing in the Pacific with the SPTO, at a time that is pivotal for the ongoing sustainable development of tourism in the region.

Kylie working with staff of the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) in Suva, Fiji.