Suva, Fiji - A new partnership has been formed between the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote green tourism in the region.

A Letter of Agreement (LOA) was signed between the two agencies in Suva last week outlining the commitment to take responsible approaches through energy, water and waste reduction and to contribute to global efforts to make the planet a better place to travel, enjoy and respect – in accordance with the theme of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. 

“The LOA supports the ongoing efforts of SPTO to raise awareness on sustainable tourism practices complementing the work already underway to introduce a Sustainability Monitoring Program for the Pacific,” said SPTO Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Cocker.

He added, “Tourism is a sector that is dependent on the environment and its natural resources.  It is also an energy and water intensive sector. With technical and funding support from UNDP, we plan to increase our reach and create more accommodations in Samoa and Fiji, and work alongside selected communities to create stronger links between the sustainable tourism industry and local communities.”

The agreement will assist SPTO to strengthen stakeholder engagement in Green Tourism, build the capacity and establishment of the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Network, support stakeholder participation in the Sustainable Tourism Enterprise Program currently implemented in Samoa and Fiji and support the development and promotion of community ecotourism projects that demonstrate the value of Green Tourism.

UNDP Pacific Office Country Director and Head of Regional Policy and Programme, Bakhodir Bukhanov said, “Last year, there were more than one billion international travelers globally, while this brings economic opportunities for the communities and businesses involved in tourism, now more than ever we need to take responsibility to safeguard the pristine and fragile ecosystems of the Pacific for future generations. 

He added, “The United Nations has declared 2017 the Year of Sustainable Tourism. We take advantage of this opportunity to encourage all businesses in the Pacific to embrace green practices and to use their innovative power to design solutions that lead to more sustainable life-styles, reducing impacts and improving well-being.” 

Both organizations recognize that for businesses to transition to sustainability, there needs to be concrete data and evidence. The Sustainability Monitoring Program provides the tools that accommodation properties can use to collect, monitor and report their performance. This is currently being trialed in Fiji and Samoa. 

SPTO will collaborate with the Governments of Fiji and Samoa, including the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association and the Samoa Hotel Association.

Whilst this is the first SPTO-UNDP Partnership, the work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is only the beginning.  

This partnership was an outcome of the SPTO Donors Roundtable held in February this year, with this initiative contributing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 13 which is Climate Action as well as Goal 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Goal 14 – Life Below Water.

Contact information

Alisi Lutu, SPTO Marketing Manager, email: or +679 3304177

Setaita Tavanabola, UNDP Communications Associate, email: or +679 3227 523;

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