By Thompson Marango, Nadi Fiji

Tourism in the Pacific Island countries grew about 3.5 per cent per year between 2008 and 2012. The total value of Pacific tourism is forecast to nearly double to US$4 billion by 2019.

The above statement is taken from a joint press statement issued by some of the major regional and international organization including 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).

The statement was made to over 100 attendees of the Pacific Community Agritourism Week in Nadi, Fiji this week.

“However, the economic benefits also come with costs. Up to 80 per cent of the food in the tourism industry is imported, partly because the hotels and airlines need reliable supplies of good quality products.’

Participants attending the yield from both agriculture and tourism sectors from around the region including some participants from the Caribbean.

Agriculture and Tourism are the two sectors that the new concept of Agritourism is rolling out for Pacific Island to encourage the use of local products in hotels in order to reduce the amount and cost of food imported by the tourism industry.

In Vanuatu’s case, a 2014 report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism investment in 2013 was VUV6,412.2mn, or 17.7% of total investment.

It should rise by 5.6% in 2014, and rise by 5.2% pa over the next ten years to VUV11,275.8mn in 2024 (20.5% of total).

The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was VUV15,793.9mn (23.2% of total GDP) in 2013, and is forecast to rise by 8.8% in 2014, and to rise by 4.3% pa, from 2014-2024, to VUV26,150.3mn (25.0% of total GDP) in 2024.

The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was VUV44,204.8mn (64.8% of GDP) in 2013, and is forecast to rise by 8.0% in 2014, and to rise by 4.5% pa to VUV74,014.6mn (70.9% of GDP) in 2024.

In 2013 Travel & Tourism directly supported 12,500 jobs (18.2% of total employment). This is expected to rise by 8.0% in 2014 and rise by 3.2% pa to 19,000 jobs (19.9% of total employment) in 2024.

In 2013, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly

Visitor exports generated VUV28,409.4mn (68.7% of total exports) in 2013. This is forecast to grow by 8.8% in 2014, and grow by 4.2% pa, from 2014-2024, to VUV46,813.7mn in 2024 (71.5% of total).

For Pacific Island Countries like Vanuatu where Tourism activities are expected to continue growing, adopting the Agritourism will ensure they can get maximum profit from the tourism sector.

Meanwhile according to the presentation of a Vanuatu Tourism representative at the Agritourism Forum, Adela Aru, in Vanuatu tourist are spending an average length of 8 days at 110,000 air visitors in 2013 which is equal to 888,000 food days.

She added that there area 250,000 cruise passengers equivalent to 250 food days.