World Bank Study Says Tourism Could Be Tonga's Biggest Industry

Pacific Possible Paper says region could bring in an additional $1.7 billion by 2040

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, ) –Tourism could be Tonga’s biggest industry of the future, according to a World Bank Pacific Possible study that was released early this month.

Tourism is Tonga’s largest single source of foreign earning, “about five times as that of Agriculture and Fisheries combined.”

Tonga’s Tourism Industry also provides 25% employment opportunities.

The World Bank Pacific Possible study focused on 11 Pacific Island Countries; Papau New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, Palau, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Tuvalu.

According to the Pacific Possible Paper on Tourism, the industry could bring in an additional US$1.7 billion to the 11 Pacific Island Countries by 2040.

The paper on tourism is one of a number of papers on a Pacific Possible Series, funded by the World Bank.

The other World Bank Pacific Possible papers are on: Deep Sea Mining, Tuna Fisheries, Labour Mobility and Climate and Disaster Resilience.

According to the World Bank Pacific Possible paper on tourism, the 11 Pacific Island Countries (PIC11) have the opportunities and the potential to generate transformational changes. “The PIC11’s unique and diverse cultural heritages are what differentiates them in the global market.”

The report pointed out that tourism presents the chance for the PIC11 to preserve the environment and their cultural heritage through sustainable development practices.

Tourism also offer an unique opportunity because PIC11 can benefit from factors that are barriers to other forms of economic growth – “Small and dispersed populations, small land areas, remoteness from markets, and limited natural resources.”

But to take advantage of these opportunities, PIC11 must:

  • Aggressively target the Chinese visitor market
  • Engage more directly in the rapidly growing Pacific cruising product
  • Expand the high-end resort market
  • Capitalize on the aging population in key origin markets by developing a long-stay visitor opportunity for retirees.

These opportunities have the potential to deliver substantially higher revenues but will also bring impacts that will need to be managed.

The report predicted that the PIC11 can attract nearly one million Chinese tourists by 2040. That one million of the 3.7 million international tourists that it predicted will be visiting the PIC11 in 2040.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
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