The summit on the theme ‘As people disappear from sight, the land remains’ brought out many crucial issues relevant to strengthening the participation of local communities and indigenous people in tourism development.
The Pacific delegation was represented by the Cook Islands, PNG, Samoa, Tahiti and Tonga and SPTO CEO, Christopher Cocker and Manager, Sustainable Tourism Development, Christina Leala Gale represented SPTO.
SPTO CEO, Christopher Cocker said the forum provided a space for indigenous peoples to learn about the challenges faced by indigenous communities and the value of cultural heritage in providing authentic tourism experiences.
“Our culture is at the centre of what we offer as tourist destinations, and the voice of indigenous people in the way tourism is planned and developed is therefore fundamental as we are guardians of the lands and resources that have been handed down to our generations” said Mr Cocker.
Organised by the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) in collaboration with NZ Maori Tourism, the symposium comprised of two events; the World Indigenous Tourism Summit held in Waitangi, Bay of Islands from 15 – 18 April and the World Indigenous Tourism Research Symposium from 18-20 April at Waikato-Tainui College for Research and Development, Hopuhopu.
Participants also contributed to the development of a terms of reference to be used world-wide to influence the international research agenda and how we can better quantify the value of indigenous tourism.
Mr Cocker also added that funding support from the New Zealand government was crucial to the Pacific participation and continuing the work of advocating for sustainable tourism in the Pacific.
“We are extremely grateful to the New Zealand Government for funding support and NZ Maori Tourism for including the Pacific in this auspicious event. The summit recognised and acknowledged the importance of indigenous tourism as a means to help connect our global indigenous communities and find a way forward through sustainable tourism” said Mr Cocker.
The Pacific was invited to present at both the Summit and Symposium, Mr Cocker presented on the topic the ‘Power of Storytelling as part of a panel discussion.
A mix of plenary and workshops provided the opportunity for participants to engage in certain topics of interest some of which include Business Meets Culture and Community tourism for indigenous people.
SPTO Manager for Sustainable Tourism Development presented at the Research Symposium on the topic ‘Indigenous Tourism in a time of Climate Change’.
The event had a total of 262 delegates from: NZ, USA, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Chile, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Argentina, France, Nepal, Ghana, Kenya and the Pacific.