Press release February 09 2018.

South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO)’s Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Cocker recently returned from a four-day visit to Tokyo, Japan to attend the Sasakawa Peace Foundation’s Cutting Edge Symposium in preparation for the 8th Japan-Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM) to be held later this year. The visit is part of the regional organisation’s advocacy role on behalf of its 17 Pacific Island member countries, inclusive of island states in the North Pacific.

The visit provided an opportunity for SPTO to explore areas of collaboration with the Foundation and also dialogue with key decision-makers in Japan’s Tourism sector, such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Trade and Tourism. While in Tokyo, the CEO also meet with the Pacific Islands Centre which is the representative of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat based in Tokyo.

Mr. Cocker discussed issues pertinent to the ongoing marketing and promotion of Pacific destinations, given the resumption of direct flights to Japan. He also met with Pacific Ambassadors in Japan to highlight SPTO’s initiatives and programmes for 2018 which target the Japanese market, amongst other topics.

Reporting on his recent visit, Mr. Cocker said, “I am happy with the discussions held with the contacts I have established during my recent trip to Tokyo, particularly with the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. The Foundation has done some wonderful work in the North Pacific, in the area of eco-tourism through its Pacific Islands Fund which is very inspiring and encouraging. I am hopeful that we will be able to find development opportunities for the South Pacific.”

“During the symposium, I highlighted the challenges faced by the region, particularly Economic Development and Sustainable Tourism Development which continue to be major constraints that need to be resolved, if our island nations are to have a sustainable tourism industry. These are issues that are critical to the future of our tourism industry and I hope the government of Japan will be able to provide some form of assistance.”

Mr. Cocker delivered a presentation on the regional tourism industry and provided an update on the Pacific’s performance, annual visitor arrivals recorded, forecasts by the UN World Tourism Organisation, SPTO’s initiatives in sustainable tourism development, regional tourism challenges and constraints, amongst other important topics.

The symposium was also attended by representatives of the Embassies of the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga. The Secretariat of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the Pacific Power Association (PPA) also attended the symposium.