Pacific

Regional Tourism Sector achieves 3.16 million visitor arrivals in 2018

Of this, air arrivals were 2.14 million in 2018, 1.6% above 2017 while sea arrivals, mainly cruise (day visitors) were 1.02 million,” said SPTO Chief Executive Officer, Chris Cocker.

These figures were released by the South Pacific Tourism Organisation in its 2018 Annual Visitor Arrivals Report.

The Report also noted that Pacific tourism receipts or visitor spending in destinations contributed US$3.8 billion or 11.1% to the region’s GDP and generated 131,010 jobs placing the tourism sector as a key driver of economic growth and employment creation for the Pacific Islands.

Australia extends help to Pacific on maritime zones

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said through its Office of the Pacific, the Australian government has established a dedicated Pacific maritime boundaries section to work closely with Pacific nations and help them secure their rights and entitlements stemming from maritime zones.

She said Canberra is providing additional funding of $US2.4 million to the Pacific Community for addressing the risks to maritime boundaries from sea-level rise, and other climate change related impacts.

Ms Payne said Australia has now spent a total of $US5.9 million on Pacific maritime boundaries.

SPTO reports more visitors in Pacific in 2018

The organisation released its inaugural Pacific Tourism Forecast this week which showed about 40,000 more visitors arrived in the region last year - 38,941 more than 2017.

It attributed the growth to a positive global tourism trend, regional and national tourism marketing, improved connectivity and infrastructure development.

The organisation said it expects tourist numbers will grow by 3.3 percent in 2019 and each year until 2024.

     

Call for bold move by Australia to improve Pacific relationship

But observers said no substantial change is expected for Australia's engagement in the region after the Coalition's surprise win at the weekend.

Shane McLeod of the Australian think-tank, the Lowy Institute, said Australia's so-called Pacific step up, a suite of policies and funding initiatives brought in in 2017, will likely continue.

But he said with losses on the hard right, there may be more room for the government to manoeuvre on climate change.

Pacific not immune to armed conflict

Speaking at the 2nd Pacific Islands Roundtable on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Apia Tuesday, Arrigoni told delegates even though there are currently no armed conflicts in the Pacific region, the Bougainville conflict constituted a non-international armed conflict. 

ADB offers support for Pacific renewable power projects

The support includes loans, guarantees, and letters of credit aimed to overcome constraints to private sector investment in the renewables sector.

The ADB says the Pacific Renewable Energy Programme will support an estimated 5 separate renewable energy projects in its Pacific developing member countries over a 5 year period.

"The program will help to build urgently needed capacity for energy sector expansion and private sector interest in clean energy projects in the region," said the Director General of the ADB's Pacific Department Carmela Locsin

European FAO candidate promising Pacific focus

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle is up against five other candidates to head the office.

Ms Geslain-Lanéelle said the Pacific had little representation within the organisation, which needs to change as the challenges the region faces are immense.

"And this region is very much affected by climate change. We still have countries where have hunger, we have malnutrition and where we have food waste and loss. So this is important to address all of these challenges."

Concerns over increasing slave trade in Pacific

The immigration watchdog says island countries are now both a source and destination for human trafficking and people smuggling.

The watchdog's head Ioane Alama said people smuggling occurs when migrants cross borders illegally but human trafficking is more sinister.

"There is always an essence of exploitation. The person being trafficked, there is a form of exploitation, either be labour, forced labour, in some cases servitude, we've heard of sexual exploitation, in terms of prostitution.

Clean water and sanitation a huge Pacific challenge - UNICEF

That's according to the UN agency for children or UNICEF which works with almost a million children across the region.

Pacific representative Sheldon Yett said there are many factors hampering progress on the issue including geography, natural disasters and the negative impacts of climate change.

"We are working actually to make sure that they can make the most out of the water that they have. To make sure that kids have access to good hygiene. To make sure that kids are teaching their parents and other community members what to do.

China lobbying Pacific nations over Taiwan issue

The Pacific is Taiwan's last bastion of diplomatic support, with six nations in the region - Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Tuvalu and Palau - recognizing Taipei rather than Beijing.

Taiwan donates large amounts of aid to these countries, and works hard to cultivate relationships with their political leaders.

But China is intent on prising off Taiwan's remaining allies around the globe.

The ABC reports Pacific officials lobbied by China asked not to be identified because they did not want to damage diplomatic ties with Beijing.