The conference, which sheds a light on how the Vanuatu Sustainable Tourism Policy (2019-2030) aims to strengthen the protection of these tourism assets (culture, custom, organic food, environment and friendly people) by supporting the traditional economy.
Central to the discussion was this idea of ‘regenerative tourism’ and the essentiality of Indigenous or local participation to co-create sustainable tourism initiatives.
Examples were shown as to how the traditional economy is protecting tourism assets through access to customary land which provides food security, housing, widespread employment, social security, biodiversity protection and ecological stability; traditional medicines, source of social cohesion, inclusion and cultural reproduction.
Delegates emphasised the need for strong collaboration across the public and private sector to guarantee environmental and socio-cultural assets are upheld and conserved.
The Director of Tourism, Jerry Spooner and the President of Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, Chief Willie Plasua, among others, spoke about the importance of mapping and protecting Ecological and Culturally Significant Areas (ECSA) across Vanuatu to ensure these areas are protected from unsustainable development.
Other nations that have lived through the consequences of unsustainable tourism applaud Vanuatu’s preservation of nature and culture and encouraged them to maintain and regenerate its pristine environment and rich socio-cultural diversity.
Johnny Edmunds, from World Indigenous Tourism Association (WINTA) expressed tourism as a “double edge sword” as socio-cultural protection and preservation were widely discussed.
“Delegates expressing the opportunities of sustainable tourism for developing stronger pride for custom, land and culture among local landowners and communities.
Delegates felt inspired and motivated by the discussions of the day, which brought together unique insights and ideas to better environmental and socio-cultural sustainability in the tourism industry.
Photo supplied Caption: Participants at the conference in Santo.