There is a big problem. Tourism in the Pacific Island countries is ever increasing, about 3.5% per year between 2008 and 2012. The total value of this market is forecasted to nearly double to US$4 billion by 2019. But at the same rate that is increasing, so is the amount and value of imported food to meet a gigantic demand. Up to 80% of the food in the tourism industry is imported, and not only famers are unhappy about this, the whole of Pacific Islands have lamented this imbalance for far too long. From this, the Pacific community and their governments are now in an AgriTourism week in Nadi, Fiji on the race to adopt a hospitality policy framework and take action.
This hospitality policy framework is a collaborative effort between the European Union, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) and the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management at the University of the South Pacific (USP). This policy will bring about some 95% of local food to the hotels kitchens, and that would directly involve the farmers and hotel Chefs.
But before we get the chefs and farmer together, we need to think of several things that would come into play even if food is grown locally for our visitors: it must have quality, it’s healthy and fresh, and always available. The latter is trickier than it is. Hotel chefs on the other hand, have another problem; they have been dictated for far too long about what menu selection they should put on the dish, so now they probably have to get back to school again and learn how to menu local food.
Towards a Pacific hospitality policy
There it is: farmers and chefs in the Pacific have never had a proper marriage for hospitality’s sake. So for this very reason and many others, the frameworks call for action is about to be adopted to make a proper marriage. This is our policy, a locally grown Pacific hospitality policy.
“Promoting the links between agriculture and tourism can contribute to improve economic opportunities, build resilience in rural communities and enhance sustainable development”, the Head of Operations for the Delegation of the European Union for the Pacific, Renato Mele, said at the event opening. “To create jobs, you need businesses who lead innovation and change. Agriculture and tourism seem to offer the best opportunity for inclusive economic growth in the region,” Mr Mele added.
Since “we eat, drink and breathe public policy”, the Pacific Island governments hospitality framework will guide the industry in the course or principles of action proposed by governments, parties, businesses and individuals. It will determine the quality of the food we eat and the water we drink. Public policy like this makes administration easier, and allows people to get on with the business more efficiently and effectively
This week, the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week will see what farmers do best, and chefs will demonstrate their most innovative ways to put local food and products on a contemporary menu.
The Pacific Community AgriTourism Week is partly funded by the Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP), a component of the Intra-ACP Agricultural Policy Programme (Intra-ACP APP), under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF 10th).
Blogpost by Lopez Marac Adams, Social Reporter for the Pacific Community AgriTourism Week 2015.