May 15, 2020

Pacific tourism must go green post Covid-19

The future of tourism in the ‘blue’ Pacific must be green, according to the head of South Pacific Tourism, Chris Cocker.

Pacific economies are reeling from the impact of around US$1.9 billion in losses from Covid-19 border shutdowns.

Locals only – island environments like this popular swimming spot on Rarotonga are becoming lush with life and colour thanks to the tourism shutdown. Photo: D.Fisher

Chris Cocker said the industry has had a wake-up call on the need to think of other revenue streams, and the new global demand for sustainability.

He said the Pacific tourism sector has been turned on its head by the pandemic, and will never be the same.

“We are going to move towards most likely green tourism and sustainable tourism because we have seen the oneness that Covid-19, in positive way, has done to our enviroment.”

“I think the importance of sustainable tourism will increase as we move towards recovering and moving forward for the future of tourism in the Pacific, and the world as a whole.

Chris Cocker, with NZ’s Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio during last years Indo-Pacific summit at Skycity Photo: Lisa Williams

Mr Cocker said there is no pressure – only what he calls heated conversation – on when Pacific nations should join a potential trans-tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand.

He said Pacific nations, which are mostly Covid-19 free, are mindful of the need to ensure health systems are equipped for when borders open up.

Grounded planes in Fiji where the aviation sector is suffering with more than 41,000 tourism job losses Photo: Lisa Williams

He said there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and each country will take its time to decide when its ready to reopen.

“What’s the rush? I would rather have a position where it is cautious, and incremental stage to stage in deciding to open up the border to be included in the trans Tasman bubble in this case.”

“So each country needs to decide themselves, in terms of the stages they are in Covid-19. And also how and when they are likely to open their borders.”

Article on Radio New Zealand website, 12 May 2020