Sustainable Development Success Stories

A commitment to alternative sustainable tourism development

Location  The island states of Niue, Kiribati, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Tonga in the south Pacific.
Responsible Organisation Governments of Niue, Kiribati, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Tonga.
Description The island states of Niue, Kiribati, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands and Tonga, cover 13,700km2, with a total population of more than 300,000 inhabitants. Their distance from major markets and the fragility of their environment makes it extremely difficult to apply conventional development strategies. Manufacturing activities are very limited in nature as are exports of agricultural produce as a result of the islands’ geographical isolation and vulnerability to natural disasters. To overcome these constraints, these island states have designed a tourism development strategy based on their natural resources. The strategy identifies the efforts needed to maximize benefits for local communities, minimize negative impacts, maintain indigenous activities and self-supporting family agriculture, and avoid the development of a "tourism monoculture". The tourism strategy also seeks to establish a balance with the islands’ infrastructure, values, cultures, resources and natural assets and to achieve a substantial involvement of the local business sector and integration with the rest of the islands’ economies.
Issues Addressed Economic development and diversification, preservation of traditional values, environmental protection.
Results Achieved
  • Maintenance of indigenous activities and self-supporting family agriculture;

  • Incentives for involvement in local business and for integration with the rest of the island economy;

  • Strategies to control the tourism sector development in balance with the islands infrastructure, values and cultures.

The outlook for this novel alternative to mass tourism appears to be favourable as it coincides with trends emerging in certain segments of the international tourism market and may open up new prospects for the sustainable development of island states.

Lessons Learned The problems encountered relate to the difficulties in accessing the islands and airlines' interest in transporting large volumes of passengers, the limitation and fragility of the islands' environment and their vulnerability to natural disasters. Adaptation to the local realities, and preservation of natural and cultural heritage were also an essential criteria to be taken into account.

World Tourism Organization
Sustainable Development of Tourism
Capitan Haya 42
28020 Madrid, Spain
Tel. (34 1) 571 0628 Fax. (34 1) 571 3733