“Pacific Women are the backbone of our tourism industry. Without the hospitable service that starts from their homes and which they take to the frontlines of the tourism industry, tourists would not have the enriching experiences that guarantee their return to our shores,” said SPTO Chief Executive Officer Chris Cocker.
At SPTO, the management team and 70% of our staff are women. This speaks to the important role that women are playing in the development of our region’s tourism industry.” In addition, the current chair of the SPTO board, Papali’i Sonja Hunter, Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Tourism Authority, is also a woman.
“We would especially like to take this opportunity to acknowledge as well as celebrate the immense and often unrecognized passion and efforts of our Pacific women in the informal tourism sector,” he added.
“Pacific women bring an important cultural dimension to activities such as weaving and handicraft that helps make our tourism experience an enriching one for visitors to our shores.”
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, in most regions of the world, women make up the majority of the tourism workforce. However, women tend to be concentrated in the lowest paid and lowest status jobs in tourism. Women also perform a large amount of unpaid work in family tourism businesses, says UNWTO.
In keeping with this year’s theme, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation is urging member countries to #BeBoldForChange and work proactively towards more inclusive, gender equal tourism industries. SPTO has conducted capacity-building training and workshops that have contributed to skills development of women, particularly those running handicraft businesses and other operations of SMEs.
Based in Suva, SPTO works with 16 Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste to market and develop tourism in the South Pacific region.