Fiji and the Pacific Region, for the first time hosted the United National World Tourism Organization’s 30th Joint Meeting of the Commission of East Asia and Pacific and Commission of the South Asian.

The Joint Commission Meeting preceded by a Regional Seminar on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism Development with over 130 delegates attending from the East Asia, South Asia, Pacific region, including Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa.

The Regional Seminar was inaugurated by the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Siddiq Koya, who also led the Fijian officials’ delegation.

The main objective of the Regional Seminar was to identify challenges faced in tourism development in the region and how these could be addressed through various mechanisms and initiatives.

The Seminar also focused on strengthening governance and management mechanisms to ensure that tourism serves as a positive force, minimizing environmental impact, helping conserve biodiversity and contribute to the well being of local communities.

The Minister during the Seminar called for greater collaboration amongst member states to address issues affecting sustainable tourism development in the region, especially for small island states.

He further stated that this was the first time the UNWTO Secretary-General hosted a meeting in Fiji and most of the delegates had never visited the region. Therefore, it was an eye opener for the delegates to have an up close experience on the plights of the small islands states due to climate change.

“In order to ensure that the Pacific was at the forefront of discussions at the Regional Seminar, we invited Pacific Island Countries that were not members of the CAP-CSA. This enabled the countries to engage with UNWTO Secretary-General and other member states”.

“There are a number of action oriented outcomes from the Seminar, and as the host, Fiji will ensure that the UNWTO provides regular updates on results of the actions taken”, stated Minister Koya.

The Minister requested the UNWTO to join other UN sister organisations as Non-Party Stakeholders in the COP23 dialogue process and assist Fiji and other member states achieve global consensus and commitment on climate change.

“One of the favourable outcomes that has emerged in Fiji’s hosting of the Joint Commissions Meeting is that Fiji will now play a greater role in the UNWTO. This will ensure that Fiji and the Region is able to capitalise on the technical expertise, resources and programmes available for small island developing states at the UNWTO”,  Koya added.

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