Miss Solomon Islands, Tiare Taisia Haro, says tourism is a gold mine for the ordinary Pacific Islander, as it provides opportunities to earn an income and fend for our families.
“Tourism is not just about travelling and seeing places, but it is also about unique experiences,” said Ms Haro to a packed conference room at Apia’s Lava Hotel.
“Unique to a certain people and place. Unique in special cuisine and handicrafts that locals offer to their visitors.”
“But most importantly, tourism benefits the local ordinary Pacific Islanders that strive to make a better living for his or her family.”
Miss Haro pointed out that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and also one that is accessible to all.
“Participation in the tourism industry does not require high qualifications, nor sophisticated equipment or technical skills to be successful.”
“Tourism can benefit the unskilled, village based person, as long as one has the right personality and the right attitude – friendly, helpful and have a heart to host a visitor.”
“Tourism helps preserve our cultural heritage by bringing attention to ordinary Pacific Islanders, to visitors who may not have known about them otherwise.”
Miss Haro drew on the example of Samoa’s Savaii Tourism Association, who had recently hosted the contestants during a visit in Savaii this week.
“I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to learn about this group of strong men, women and children who have united to form this association promoting tourism in Savaii,” said Miss Haro. “Strength in numbers, they say.”
Miss Haro also drew on the example of the Pacific Games being a major tourism event, with the 2023 games to be hosted by Solomon Islands later this year.
It will provide global host communities the opportunity to showcase and earn an income from local products such as arts and crafts and local cuisine.
Covid-19 affected about 84% of tourism according to SPTO, said Miss Haro, “however, this does not account for the resilience of our Pacific people that drives the industry.”
Miss Tiare Haro said the Pacific has been at the forefront of climate change, but have always proven to be stronger than the adversities we face.
“We have regrouped, we rise, we heal, we overcome.”
Miss Solomon Islands said she is proud of the way all Pacific Island Countries responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Miss Haro said the Pacific were quick to react to the threat of the pandemic and commended tourism operators who helped to keep visitors and repatriated citizens safe.
Miss Haro called on a collaborative approach towards promoting the Pacific region as a tourist destination, by showcasing to the world that each Pacific Island has its own unique cultural experience.
“We cannot afford to compete against each other, but we should promote our islands as one Pacific village.”
“It is through working together in promoting our beautiful Pacific, that will make us a stronger tourism region in the world, and one to be reckoned with.”