THE Pacific Ocean earns its name because of the tranquillity of its calm blue water, swaying palm trees and warm weather.
And that is precisly what most people imagine when thinking of visiting the Pacific Rim, those countries that lie around the edge and within this great expanse of ocean. These countries include Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, the western coastal countries and states of South, Central and North America, Canada as well as Japan, China and eastern Asian countries. Inside the Pacific itself are a number of island chains including Micronesia, Solomon Islands and Polynesia.
Most of the ‘western’ countries around the Rim such as America, Australia and New Zealand have well-developed tourism strategies and opportunities, though several drawbacks such as the threat of terrorism, rising oil prices and involvement in wars, have created dips rather than growth. However, according to the latest World Tourism Organisation (WTO) figures, America and Australia are constantly leading in destination popularity in the region. The WTO also forecasts China as being the most popular tourist destination in the world by 2020, attracting some 130 million foreign visitors by then. Many of the island nations within the Pacific still carry the legacy of colonial power, but are reclaiming their own heritage and cultural history. However, being so much smaller and less resourced than the bigger countries around the Rim, the islands are not geared enough to take full advantage of the advances in the tourism industry and face the challenge of developing their tourism products.
However, a recent South Pacific Tourism Development conference held in June this year revealed that visitors to the islands are rising. At the same conference, strong concerns were raised regarding the need for sustainable tourism strategies to avoid serious exploitation of delicate and vulnerable natural and cultural resources.
Within the Pacific Rim, tourism has become one of the major income earners and employers of local workers. Fiji attracts more tourists than any other Pacific Island nation, surpassing its former economic staple, sugar, as its prime source of foreign income. French Polynesia has been running second as the region’s most popular tourist destination. As with trade goods, tourists come to the Pacific Islands from former colonial powers and nearby larger countries.
The Pacific Rim is set to become an increasingly important tourism destination. It remains to be seen whether these countries can face the new challenges that tourism brings with it in the first half of the 21st century.
By Phoenix Arrien
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.