As more parts of the Pacific reopen their borders to the rest of the world, New Zealand tourism experts are advising Kiwis to “go out there” and help economies rebuild after more than two years of lockdown.
The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will open on July 1, with Samoa and the Federated States of Micronesia a month later on August 1.
Apisalome Movono, senior lecturer in development at Massey University, said Kiwis had the perfect opportunity to be “the best tourists in the world” and set the global standard when visiting the vulnerable Pacific.
Movono’s colleague, Pacific Research and Policy Center co-director Regina Scheyvens, said the pandemic pause should spur vacationing Kiwis to focus on improving the well-being of islanders.
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Fiji, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea were the first to open to tourists, while Niue opened on Tuesday.
Tonga has yet to set a date to recover from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano eruption and tsunami and a coronavirus outbreak.
Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu remain closed.
Scheyvens said Kiwis should take the opportunity to visit the Pacific when they can.
“Go for it, but realize there’s more to Pacific destinations than sand and sun – the people are wonderful,” she said.
Movono said Pacific nations have learned from each other when it comes to reopening borders.
Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Samoa have been good examples of putting their people first and are among the countries that have chosen to resume tourism on their own terms, he said.
“Throughout the pandemic, Samoa, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have been cautious rather than returning to normal as soon as possible,” Movono said.
Scheyvens said Samoa had taken a cautious approach with Covid coming on the heels of a devastating measles outbreak that killed more than 80 people.
“Vanuatu has received accolades for the work they are doing in the agritourism space during the pandemic, so visitors should be prepared for opportunities to sample local produce – there will be treats in store for adventurous ones.”
Kiwis could be great tourists learning more about their hosts and their culture before jumping on a plane, she said.
Learning simple local words and phrases wouldn’t be too bad either, Scheyvens said.
“Spend your money in a way that the money flows into the local economy, buy fruit at markets and make handicrafts at roadside stalls, eat at local restaurants.
“Show respect for people and the environment wherever you go.
“Kiwis want international tourists to respect our country when they visit – we need to do the same when we travel elsewhere.”