12 Jul 2019

Tuvalu wants tourism policy that fights climate change

2:20 pm on 12 July 2019

Tuvalu's government wants assistance with developing a tourism policy that embraces the fight against climate change.

Tourism Minister Taukelina Finikaso said the new policy should incorporate a rebranding of the country's tourism sector in response to the climate crisis.

Tuvalu's Foreign Minister Taukelina Finikaso

Tuvalu's Foreign Minister Taukelina Finikaso Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

Speaking at an Indonesian trade show in New Zealand on Thursday, he said the policy should encourage visitors to plant mangroves and trees to prevent soil erosion in the low lying country that's threatened by rising sea levels.

Hindering the country's development as a tourist destination was its lack of air links, with only Fiji Airways operating direct flights.

Tuvalu was also losing potential tourists to Fiji, Mr Finikaso said.

"What we are hoping is that we can get some assistance, especially from Indonesia, who will have vast experience of this, Australia, New Zealand, if they can help in developing a tourism policy for the country," he said.

Forum Preparations

Meanwhile, Tuvalu's tourism industry has been boosted in its preparations to cope with an influx expected for next month's Pacific Islands Forum Leaders summit.

The chief executive of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, Christopher Cocker, says hotel staff, communities and youth groups in the capital, Funafuti, have been trained in food and beverage service, food safety and customer service.

Mr Cocker said more than 1000 people were expected in Tuvalu for the event.

It followed last month's Polynesian Leaders Group meeting, which Mr Cocker said he was impressed by.

He says he was impressed with Tuvalu's hosting of last month's Polynesian leaders meeting.

"We didn't expect that standard of service provided and I'm just talking about basic housekeeping and the services in terms of providing food and beverage, and the way food is prepared. And also the standard of the rooms that we were in."