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Samoa Tourism at the Regional Agritourism Week 2015

Pacific Community Agritourism Week

July 26, 2015

The first agritourism forum in the Pacific region jointly coordinated by a number of regional and global organisations including CTA, SPTO, PIPSO and SPC was held on Denarau Island, Fiji from 29 June to 3 July 2015.

Activities of the Regional Agritourism week included a forum that was conducted in parallel with various events that brought together farmers, chefs, hoteliers and many more from around the Pacific and the Caribbean region. Key information and knowledge tools were exchanged through presentations, discussions and focus group sessions on the theme of: Linking the agriculture sector to tourism-related markets.

Tourism as a growth area in the Pacific

Interestingly, according to the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), tourism arrivals in the Pacific region have increased in the past 5 years, at a higher rate than the average global tourism rate. Our people, food and culture are factors that set our region apart from the sun, beach and surf offered in similar places around the world. Here there are many opportunities for this region to capitalise on its rich cuisine and culinary culture; it has amazing stories behind its freshly served dishes which include locally grown vegetables, fruits, fish and so much more.

The lessons that were shared by the Caribbean region were received with great enthusiasm. Agriculture and tourism are both very important industries in driving the economic livelihoods of our small and "smart island nations". The opportunities fronted by linking agriculture to tourism had untapped potential activities, shared through the experiences of farmers, chefs, non-governmental and regional organisations and government institutions; sharing of information and having a good data and information communication system may be key to future success.

Product development needs to be prioritised; accessing the right information and assistance in order to meet the standards and qualities the market requires is a crucial and challenging issue. This was echoed by many of the participants in the different island nations.

I was delighted to make a presentation on data management on behalf of the Samoa Tourism Authority. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to share lessons learned through the participatory, three-dimensional model-planning tool (P3DM), which uses a representative number of community members, private sector, civil society and government actors to plan a coordinated approach to its activities targeting food security and ensuring climate change resilience.

Celebrating our healthy cuisine and rich culture

Celebrity Chef Colin Chung leading Lautoka market excursion - photo Solo Matthewsella Tourism and agriculture are key economic sectors and are the forces behind the rural communities in their villages and islands with their unique traditions and customs. As a community member and a citizen of a smart island nation I learned that we are emotional beings and our heritage has unique features. The Pacific, through this forum, will undoubtedly be strengthened and can promote its healthy cuisine, lush and beautiful tropical island surroundings and rich culture from a proud and happy people.

The exemplary work of CTA and all who were behind this initiative is commended; the connection between tourism and agriculture is a great opportunity for the Pacific, which has experience of the "farm to table" initiative 

I am convinced that the engagement of all partners through an interactive and inclusive planning tool such as P3DM is a good starting point for mapping out activities and establishing the linkages for both tourism and agriculture on how to co-learn and equitably share the benefits.

Amiaifolau Afamasaga–Luatua, Project Manager for Enhancing the resilience of tourism reliant communities to climate change risks project, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented through UNDP.