Tourism is the lifeblood of many Pacific economies and agritourism provides a promising avenue for diversification and trade growth. High quality, nutritious and healthy food, available every day of the year, is critical to hotels, lodges and resorts. Often the food-purchasing bill of a tourism site is large in comparison to the size of the local economy, yet surprisingly little of this is spent locally, even when supplies are available from farmers, fishermen and small-scale agribusinesses. The challenges of shifting food-sourcing to local suppliers are considerable – achieving this in a way that meets commercial needs and customer preferences, and meets food and safety requirements, would be one way in which tourism operations can significantly increase their contribution to local economic development.
Solomon Islands has 40% of the share in the Pacific tourism market, and it is the biggest tourist destination. Tourist arrivals are almost hitting the one million mark. It has natural and cultural potential to develop its tourist market further by diversifying its tourism policy and strengthening its linkages with the agriculture industry. This will increase resilience of food systems and incomes for rural communities. A policy on agritourism will also develop linkages with the health sector ensuring that it supports national campaigns towards nutritious and healthy food.
CTA at the forefront of agritourism development in the South Pacific
This workshop builds on the positive experience of Vanuatu and Samoa, where the national governments, together with CTA and partners, also organised successful Agritourism Policy Setting Workshops in 2016. The next Agritourism Policy Setting Workshop is scheduled to take place this year in Fiji. Discussions are underway for similar activities in Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Timor Leste and Palau for 2018.
More recently, CTA supported an Agritourism Workshop for the entire Pacific region on 18 October 2017, as part of the first Pacific Week of Agriculture (Vanuatu, 16-20 October 2017). Participants shared lessons and experiences in agritourism development, and deliberated progress made by agribusinesses in serving tourism markets in selected countries. It resulted in the first ever Agritourism Development Recommendations, which were presented to and approved by Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Services (MOAFS) on 20 October 2017. Following this, Pacific Ministers of Tourism attending the 27th South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) Council of Tourism Ministers on 25 October adopted their own Agritourism Recommendations, significant advancement of the Agritourism agenda in the Pacific.