The NOAA Program Office collaborated with the Local2030 Islands Network, the Global Island Partnership, the Hawai‘i Local2030 Hub, the U.S. Department of State and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to convene a kick-off scoping event for a new island-led Community of Practice (CoP) on Sustainable and Regenerative Tourism on May 25, 2022. The virtual event brought together experts and practitioners focused on sustainable tourism to begin identifying common challenges and opportunities and to start the process of honing in on potential focus areas for the CoP. The Network convened two separate sessions to accommodate the different time zones, one for the first event is for Caribbean/African/European islands, the second event is for Asia-Pacific islands; however, as the CoP moves forward, the goal is to foster peer-to-peer learning and collaboration across islands, regions and networks on a global scale. The event featured speakers who highlighted principles, methods and approaches for consideration of the group, including remarks by Dr. Pauline Sheldon, Professor Emerita of the University of Hawai‘i, School of Travel Industry Management, Author and Founder of Tourism Education Futures Initiative, who referred to regenerative island tourism as that which “replenishes, revitalizes and contributes to the long term flourishing of island communities and ecosystems, looks to living systems for inspiration, is unique for each island destination, and requires a new mindset by all island stakeholders”.
She encouraged participants to take a systems view of tourism, one which is adaptive and evolves over time, as opposed to a distinct industry. Many speakers identified the challenges of climate change, and the need to support the health and well-being of ecosystems and natural resources in the face of tourism. NOAA experts and partners played a prominent role in the CoP kick off event, with representatives from the Hawaii Sea Grant Program, the Marine Protected Areas Center, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the Coral Reef Conservation Program, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Climate Program Office speaking and/or moderating break out sessions. Participants included experts, decision makers and stakeholders from international and regional organizations and networks, and over 30 island economies from around the world. Together, they addressed the following topics: 1) What are some of the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic that may help to build a stronger, more resilient tourism economy for the future? 2) What role can the private sector play in promoting sustainability in tourism and linkages with public policies? 3) How can data from the perspective of businesses, destinations and public authorities help empower the smart and sustainable recovery of tourism in the medium and long term? 4) What are some of the key island priorities that should be addressed for a sustainable tourism recovery and resilience?
For more information, contact Lisa Vaughan.