While the Pacific awaits the return of visitors, strategic partnerships between regional agencies are working to ensure that the tourism and aviation sectors are adequately prepared for the reopening of borders for tourism.
In recognition of the severe impacts that COVID-19 has had on global air services and tourism, the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO) are coordinating efforts to ensure that their respective sectors are ready and can confidently reboot as soon as air travel corridors are established and border restrictions relaxed between Pacific nations and other international destinations.
These efforts include identifying areas for prioritisation and investment to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the recovery process for Pacific economies, many of whom are highly dependent on tourism flows for employment and income. Moreover, with many regional airlines facing unprecedented financial challenges, the ongoing issue of regional connectivity is perhaps more important than ever before.
“In recognition of the multi-faceted nature of the tourism industry, SPTO remains committed to supporting recovery efforts through dialogue and innovative partnerships with key stakeholders like airlines, tourism industry leaders and development partners,” said SPTO Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Christopher Cocker.
“We recognise the critical importance of aviation as a key enabler for tourism recovery so we welcome this strategic partnership with PASO,” said Mr. Cocker.
“Ensuring the availability of viable, safe and secure air services is a critical part of enabling and reactivating tourism. Without this, the Pacific’s COVID-19 tourism recovery will likely stall,” said PASO General Manager, Mr. Andrew Valentine.
“PASO’s fundamental role in the Pacific’s COVID-19 tourism response and recovery is to ensure Pacific States are supported to confidently kick-start their aviation sectors by checking and certifying that airlines, airports and key aviation infrastructure and services are safe, secure and compliant ahead of tourism reactivation.”
“The Pacific cannot afford poor aviation safety or security performance. An aviation accident or incident would severely derail Pacific States’ tourism recovery plans, negatively impact economies, and could have long lasting effects on the reputation of the wider region, and any country involved,” said Mr. Valentine.
As two of the smaller CROP agencies, the work of both SPTO and PASO is restricted by resource limitations. As such, the support of the relevant stakeholders and development partners is needed to strengthen their efforts to support recovery and reactivation for both industries.
In the interim, SPTO and PASO have committed to sharing information and providing regular joint updates to better inform their respective sectors as well as valued visitors to the region, to ensure that Pacific tourism recovers to deliver authentic and memorable experiences for visitors.
This strategic initiative between SPTO and PASO is supported by the key recommendations pertaining to the reopening of borders and reactivation of tourism, highlighted in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT) and SPTO Report 2020 Pacific Tourism Sector Scenario Development and Recovery Pathways.
Moreover, the partnership aligns with the key issues stemming from the 2020 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting and comes ahead of the SPTO Council of Tourism Ministers Meeting (COTMM) and the Regional Aviation Minister’s Meeting (RAMM), both of which have been deferred to 2021.
It is expected that these regional meetings will progress and strengthen aviation safety and security, along with COVID-19 recovery scenarios, to enable the reactivation and sustainability of tourism for the benefit of Pacific communities.