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Five-star hotels provide jobs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Sept. 28, 2010) - Pacific nations should not be afraid of larger holiday resorts if they are to gain visitor dollars to alleviate poverty, international tourism industry experts say.

Tourism has significant potential to reduce poverty in the Pacific, a conference in Sydney, Australia, has heard.

Around the world, more sophisticated ways of linking indigenous communities with tourism are leading to big increases in jobs and business opportunities.

The Asia Pacific workshop on tourism development and poverty reduction, running this week, is an initiative of the International Trade Centre, a joint United Nations World Trade Organization body, and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Pacific tourism leaders were told their industry has very significant potential to create jobs and business opportunities, particularly for Pacific Islanders living in rural areas.

Fabrice Leclerq, from the Geneva-based International Trade Centre, says success is coming from looking in detail at every point along the tourism supply chain to find exactly where the best value is to be found for local communities.

Mr. Leclerq says his organization has found working with all-inclusive tourist establishments and five - star hotels have the greatest potential to create jobs.

"We should not think that either five-star hotels or all-inclusive hotels are necessarily bad for the community," he told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat.

"We've seen this in the Caribbean with Sandals (operator of the exclusive Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica) and also they often have much more capacity to employ or purchase local product and services than an average small hotelier."

University of Tasmania Tourism Professor, Trevor Sofield agrees five-star hotels and hotels that aim to provide their customers with everything from accommodation, food, through to entertainment and activities are a fruitful area to work in.

While the International Trade Centre is concentrating on match-making communities with new hotel projects, Professor Sofield says many older existing hotels can be encouraged to buy and employ locally.

He said: "We look for ways in which a community can take advantage of what's already there, so if we can establish chicken farms, piggeries, market gardens.

"We've got to start thinking outside the square and look at the entire supply chain, which includes a thousand and one things that any resort requires to exist, rather than simply focusing as we have in the past on homestays or little eco-tourism projects, or guiding.

"There will always be very stringent restrictions on the capacity to enlarge that to a degree where we can really do something about poverty levels."

Until Samoa was hit by the tsunami last year, its tourism industry was growing at a satisfying seven percent a year. Vanuatu too has seen its tourism industry growing consistently at seven percent.

But the Department of Tourism's Adela Aru knows she has to be realistic in a goal to get a three to four-star hotel in every one of Vanuatu's provinces.

"There needs to be a lot of government commitment to actually getting a three to four-star hotel in each of the six provinces," she said.

"Our priority is focused on getting this concept in two of the main provinces first.

"Already we have engagement support from the European Union to actually fund the tourism resource centers for these two provinces, so the next step for the government is to actually financially commit itself to getting something up from here."

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