Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ethics and tourism

from w
There are plenty of things to comment on regarding Fiji today, but caution is necessary because of the irrational situation in Fiji so I will stick to a safe topic - tourism. Several people ask me if it is safe to visit Fiji as a tourist these days, and I respond by telling them that tourist resorts are still pleasant places for a holiday and the workers need their jobs. However also keep in mind that there is great suffering as well. Patrick Wong and others in Fiji's tourism industry persist in being optimistic but truly, numbers are down in the resorts, partly because of travel warnings and some of the media stories in recent weeks. But I still say to those who ask me, 'Go over and see, observe, and listen. Before you go read Fiji news on the web, including some of the burgeoning blogs so that you will not be naive.'
Here is a very good paper on tourism generally which is worth a read (if the link won't open directly, here it is: ) - and I am quoting here just an excerpt from it.

[Article 5] Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities

1. Local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate, and particularly in the creation of direct and indirect jobs resulting from them;

2. Tourism policies should be applied in such a way as to help to raise the standard of living of the populations of the regions visited and meet their needs; the planning and architectural approach to and operation of tourism resorts and accommodation should aim to integrate them, to the extent possible, in the local economic and social fabric; where skills are equal, priority should be given to local manpower;

3. Special attention should be paid to the specific problems of coastal areas and island territories and to vulnerable rural or mountain regions, for which tourism often represents a rare opportunity for development in the face of the decline of traditional economic activities;

4. Tourism professionals, particularly investors, governed by the regulations laid down by the public authorities, should carry out studies of the impact of their development projects on the environment and natural surroundings; they should also deliver, with the greatest transparency and objectivity, information on their future programmes and their foreseeable repercussions and foster dialogue on their contents with the populations concerned.


megcb said...

this is a great thing to post Wendy! So often resorts think they are just there to make $$ for some offshore shareholder and that to provide a job as they please it good enough, when it isn't. (danger: I feel quite strongly about this!). apparently with many resorts as little as 10% of the $ made stay in the country, which is terrible. The practise of buying all their furnishings, food cheap from overseas, shipping profits to offshore investors, using only expats at middle management or above and sacking and rehiring locals as needed is irresponsible, and to add insult to injury many of these resorts call themselves "eco-resorts".

(let me just add after this rant I am in no way employed by treasure, I just live there, and my opinions do not represent the resort in any way!!! but Treasure is half owned by the local landowners, and I think the local directorship shows in the far friendlier policies practised. More reading here: the introduction was taken from a paper very similar to the one you quoted today, that's why I found it so interesting...

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hello Meg,
It's good to hear that Treasure Island has plenty of local ownership and fine-tunes the ethical aspects of tourism in its policies.
In the media handouts from Patrick and co, they do rant on about how important tourism is to Fiji's economy... but so much of the profits is not trickled down to the local Fiji economy. Of course the local people just have to get and and go and plant suitable fruits, vegies, and raise chickens and animals to source the resorts. Handicrafts are less important than good nutritious food. However, please tell the visitors to come. Some of our relatives need those jobs, even my namesake, Wendy Junior, has nearly completed her studies in hospitality and wants work.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Dear Meg,
I don't object to expatriates working in the resorts alongside locals. The best kind of staff is a generous mix of old-young, men-women, experienced-on the way up, and certainly be inclusive of several of Fiji's wonderful cultural groups.