This report examines tourism and its contribution to poverty alleviation in the Pacific, focusing mainly on what existing literature can tell us about the nature and scope of tourism in the region and its contribution to development, constraints to tourism, and the roles of key institutions in the region which encourage development of tourism. This is the first written report produced from NZAID-funded research on Sharing the Riches of Tourism: Exploring How Tourism Can Contribute More Effectively to Poverty Alleviation in the Pacific. Later fieldwork will be conducted in Fiji and Vanuatu, and two further country study reports will be produced. In the last decade tourism has been promoted widely as a tool for economic development in developing countries under the banner of ‘pro-poor tourism’ (PPT), which aims to increase the net benefits of tourism for the poor. While PPT is not an approach which has been specifically adopted in the Pacific, many Pacific Island governments have nevertheless pursued growth of their tourism sector, particularly in response to disappointing returns from investment in agricultural commodities. While undoubtedly tourism has contributed to foreign revenue generation and created thousands of jobs in the region, there is recognition both that a) the benefits of tourism do not reach the poorest groups in society, and b) South Pacific countries could secure much greater benefits from existing tourism flows if more attention was paid to strategies such as fostering local ownership (including partnership arrangements) and developing backward linkages. The nature of tourism development varies considerably across the region. While a small number of countries in the South Pacific such as Fiji, French Polynesia, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Samoa have turned tourism into their major industry, others with a smaller sector also gain considerable benefits from this industry and are seeking to grow tourism further. In Fiji and Vanuatu the tourism industry is foreign-dominated and centred around resort-style development, but in some other countries smaller to medium-scale forms of tourism with relatively high levels of local ownership have thrived. Small-scale and alternative tourism development has often been posited as the most appropriate means of involving communities directly in tourism in the region but a lack of entrepreneurial/business experience among local populations and poor access to credit can inhibit the success of these enterprises.
This report has been funded by NZAID’s International Development Research Fund, for a research project on: Sharing the Riches of Tourism: Exploring How Tourism Can Contribute More Effectively to Poverty Alleviation in the Pacific