Trade and currency and gold

giovedì 3 febbraio 2011

The issues

The issues

Every year thousands of people travel from Aotearoa New Zealand to the Pacific Islands. In many Pacific Island countries, tourism is the largest industry, impacting on both local communities and resources.
  • In some countries in the Pacific, tourism can account for 75% of foreign exchange earnings (SPTO). 
  • In the year ending April 2008, Fiji alone received 96,755 visitors from Aotearoa New Zealand (Ministry of Tourism, 2008).
Pacific peoples recognise that tourism has the potential to bring huge social and economic benefits to the Pacific Islands, but they are also concerned about some of the dangers associated with tourism.
Some fragile ecosystems of the islands cannot sustain large numbers of visitors; visitors increase pollution in the region, which - unmanaged - has an adverse effect on the environment. This is significantly affecting the coral; the very things that attract tourists in the first place may inadvertently be destroyed by them.
Another area of concern involves foreign tourism investments, which can mean that profits from tourism go straight overseas, rather than to local communities. Locals can end up bearing all the costs of tourism (such as on their environment and culture) while receiving none of the financial benefits.
Pacific peoples, alongside others from all over the world, are actively engaged in developing and researching ways in which they can meet the many challenges posed by tourism.
How can you ensure that your visit to the Pacific is a positive experience for both you and the people in the country you visit?
Following the guidelines in the Responsible Tourism Code for the Pacific is just one way that Aotearoa New Zealanders travelling to the Pacific Islands can support the efforts of Pacific Island peoples to ensure that tourists bring benefits - not problems - when they visit.
Our download page has versions of the Code that you can print yourself.

Being a responsible tourist

Tourists can make a big difference by only supporting the type of tourism that is not harmful to the environment and is supportive of local communities working to gain or maintain sustainable livelihoods. The seven points of the Code are a good place to start. Here are a few more details about each of the points in the Code:

Learn about the country and its culture

You'll have a better time if you do some research about the place before you visit and learn a few words of the local language or dialect.
Remember that the Pacific Islands are not one homogenous group. There are differences in customs, dialects, languages and etiquette between and within Pacific Island countries.
The website is a good starting place to get in touch with local visitors centres who can let you know more about the places you'd like to visit.
If you respect the local customs, and the dignity and rights of the local people, in turn, you'll be better respected as a visitor.
It's good to be aware that while you're wandering around on holiday, people are going about their normal lives. What's appropriate in one country or village may not be appropriate in another; what's appropriate in town may not be appropriate in villages, but here's a few general tips:
  • Don't take photos without asking, including photos of children
  • Don't enter into people's private spaces/homes without invitation
  • Pacific peoples tend to be more modest than some tourists; showing shoulders, or sometimes even thighs when swimming may be inappropriate outside tourist resorts
  • Giving money and/or gifts to children can be inappropriate and there are concerns about an increase in begging throughout the Pacific. If you want to support the local community, you might like to support local initiatives or community projects instead.

Minimise environmental impact

Pollution is becoming a major problem in the Pacific and tourists have contributed majorly to this. In Fiji, for example, bad flooding is exacerbated through rivers being clogged with plastic bottles and bags.
You can help by reusing your water bottle, using filtered water or iodine tablets if you're concerned about the cleanliness of local supply.
You can refuse plastic bags at supermarkets or shops.
In some places in the Pacific, water is scarce and power is costly to generate. Pitch in with the locals and try and keep your usage low.

Protect the coral

The coral reefs in the Pacific are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of tourism. Coral reefs are living organisms that can be destroyed by people touching, walking on, or taking away items from the reef. Harvesting the coral to satisfy tourist demand for jewellery and trinkets is also damaging.
As long as tourists demand to be taken walking on the coral, or continue to buy coral products, some people will keep selling those services and products. If you want to have mementoes of your trip you might instead opt to buy locally-made traditional art and craftworks.

Support local initiatives

Part of the fun of a holiday is trying new things and living in a different way to how you do at home. Rather than going for a steak and chips or a tofu burger, try some of the local food and drink - every bottle of coke has to be imported and transported in, all of which impacts negatively on the environment. Besides, purchasing imported goods usually costs you more!
Make sure the 'genuine pacific fine mat' you're thinking of buying, or that great light-up coconut palm doesn't have a Made in China sticker on the bottom of it. Give something back to those who have accepted you into their home country, and look for local produce and products.
Consider staying in locally-owned accommodation and supporting local tour operators.

Pay a fair price

In most parts of the Pacific bartering is unacceptable and prices are fixed.  Local tradespeople set what they consider to be a fair price and may be insulted if you offer anything lower.
In some of the larger towns like Suva (Fiji), bartering may be appropriate at the market places, but the local visitors centre will be able to tell you. Check up about the local protocol before you start haggling for the best deal.
Remember that while you're hunting round for the best bargain, the cheapest prices may mean that the people involved in manufacture could well have been paid the least.

Think about your impact

When you're travelling, you are a guest in somebody else's home. As well as taking care to respect the particular customs of your hosts, don't do anything you wouldn't do at home.
The spread of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) including HIV / AIDS are a growing concern in the Pacific. As a tourist, you have a responsibility to practise safe and responsible sex.
Many people in Pacific Islands have very different attitudes to sex than tourists. What you think of as a casual fling may have far more serious implications for a local.
It doesn't take much to make your trip a positive experience for everyone.

Other things to think about

There are no universal standards for 'ecotourism', 'sustainable tourism' or 'responsible tourism'. While there are many genuine operators promoting themselves under one of these slogans, others might just be jumping on the trendy ecotourism bandwagon.
The term 'ecotourism', for example, is common today and could refer to anything from bungy-jumping in a rainforest to a souvenir shop selling polished shells. An 'ecotourism' operator might not necessarily be doing anything good for the environment. It's up to you to see what they're doing and decide for yourself.
Greenglobe is a legitimate ecotourism benchmarking system for the tourism industry. While Greenglobe does require businesses to meet particular standards of environmental care, it is very expensive to register. Large multinational tourist operators may be in a much better financial position to join and market themselves under the Greenglobe slogan than smaller tourism ventures, which might actually be much more sustainable and bring more real benefits to the local community. If you are visiting large-scale tourist operations, however, it doesn't hurt to ask if they are a Greenglobe member.
Air travel has boomed in the last few decades, but it comes at a cost. Aeroplanes contribute massively to greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, which in turn, threatens low lying atolls in the Pacific and elsewhere. There are a number of ways you can consider this when you travel to the Pacific.
Follow the principles of slow travel. Use slower forms of transport where possible and take one long holiday rather than a number of trips per year.  This cuts down on your environmental impact, gives you time to properly relax and provides more time to explore; spreading the economic benefits of your stay further.
Hire a bike instead of a car.
If you need to hire a car, choose a model with a small engine to cut down on your fuel consumption.
Offset the carbon produced by your flight.  This is not as effective as not flying but it does go someway to mitigating your impact.  There are a number of carbon offset schemes out there, investing your money in environmental projects or renewable energy. One such Aotearoa New Zealand based scheme is Offset the Rest.
Tourism can have particular impacts on tribal peoples and indigenous people.  There are a number of organisations of tribal and indigenous peoples that look at issues of tourism that are connected to the Web.
Survival International is an international organisation supporting tribal peoples worldwide with information on tourism.
Partners in Responsible Tourism are particularly interested in the impact of tourism on indigenous peoples.
When travelling to an area with a high degree of tourism based on the local culture, try to use locally-owned tourism providers so control of the tourism remains within these communities.
Our Learn More page links you to information, websites and organisations that are working on issues around responsible tourism.

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