Fiji Women Credit Maggie Boyle / DFAT via Flickr

Sustainable Tourism Enterprise Program for the South Pacific

The islands of the Pacific are a popular destination for many travelers looking to trade in city life for secluded beaches, cultural authenticity and stunning natural environments. While the small size and remoteness of these destinations makes for ideal getaways, these characteristics also bring along many challenges. Visitors often put increased pressure on the already limited supply of agricultural products, water and energy. This results in a further dependence on imported goods and contributes to excess waste production. On top of these challenges, the transportation of imported goods drives up carbon emissions, exacerbating the climate change impacts to which small islands are particularly vulnerable.

The Pacific islands also must cope with economic vulnerability due to their geographic isolation and small size. According to the Asian Development Bank, 31 percent of Fiji’s population and 26.9 percent of Samoa’s population lived below the poverty line in 2014. Tourism is a key driver of economic development in these destinations. The industry has the potential to combat poverty by providing more jobs, growing incomes, and creating markets for local goods and services. However, there is still an opportunity for the tourism sector in the Pacific to be more inclusive of local suppliers and service providers and prioritize capacity building. This will help ensure that local communities are truly reaping the economic benefits of the industry.

What We're Doing

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, Heads of State adopted the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP), a global framework for action to accelerate the shift towards SCP including resource efficient and low carbon tourism, in both developed and developing countries. In 2015, the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Alliance (PSTA) was formed as a public-private partnership with the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) to help fast track sustainability in the region. Sustainable Travel International working with the SPTO under the auspices of the PSTA, was awarded a grant through the 10YFP Trust Fund call for proposals for Sustainable Tourism Programme to implement a pilot project focused on improving sustainable resource management in hotels in the Pacific.

The destinations participating in the preliminary stage of the project are Fiji and Samoa; however the eventual intention is to expand to other Pacific Islands. Through this work, the partners hope to inspire a new commitment to sustainability among members of the local tourism industry and empower them to improve their consumption and production behavior by:

  • Collaborating with local stakeholders to identify the barriers to sustainable consumption and production within the destination
  • Training 100 hotel managers on sustainable tourism best practices such as sourcing goods locally, using resources more efficiently, and utilizing a supply chain that is more inclusive of local people and cultures
  • Raising awareness among hotel managers on the financial and economic benefits of incorporating sustainability practices into their business operations
  • Equipping 100 hotels with a Sustainability Management System (SMS) – a digital tool to monitor energy-use, waste-reduction, water consumption, and sustainable sourcing

Long Term Impacts

By influencing the sustainability behavior in businesses and across destinations, this project will lead to a more robust economy and a better future for people and environments in the Pacific. The anticipated long-term impacts include:

Reduced consumption of nonrenewable resources (water, gas, electricity) and increased resource efficiency through recycling, greywater recycling and use of alternative energy sources

Decreased amount of waste and pollution generated by the tourism industry

Reduced dependence on foreign imports through local production and consumption

Less carbon emissions being generated from the transportation of imported goods

Increased tourism-related job opportunities and income streams for local people

Increased awareness and appreciation of local culture

For more information about this project, please contact Paloma Zapata.

Our Partners

  • 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme
  • South Pacific Tourism Authority
  • Fiji Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism
  • Samoa Hotel Association
  • Samoa Tourism Authority

Make the World a Better Place

Your gift will help us continue to work towards a more sustainable future for Pacific island nations and other destinations around the globe

Related Work

Pacific Sustainable Tourism Alliance

Learn more about how the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Alliance is combatting key environmental and human threats associated with tourism in the Pacific

Climate Change

Learn more about how we’re addressing climate change issues affecting other destinations 

Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

In the Caribbean, where tourism drives the economy and the tension between the desire for development and the need to protect resources is ongoing, we led a consortium of businesses, destinations, donors, regional organizations and nonprofits — all with a vested interested in maintaining and restoring the region’s natural, cultural and economic integrity.

The destinations that belonged to the Sustainable Destinations Alliance of the Americas (SDAA) included:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Dominica
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Riviera Maya
  • St. Kitts & Nevis

Our Role

In each of these destinations, we provided a host of regionalized approaches to their unique set of challenges and opportunities, ultimately allowing them to determine their own paths toward ongoing sustainable development.

As a result of the SDAA’s efforts, each destination was equipped with a list of action projects as a way to develop best practices and work towards becoming a sustainable destination. The projects address top priority environmental, socio-cultural, and economic issues to help preserve the destination, improve the visitor experience, and increase benefits for local residents.


destination pin icon

Destination: Multiple

Regions: Caribbean Islands, Central America



“Environmental protection and development can go hand-in-hand. But it takes communication to create sustainability solutions.” – Ruleta Camacho, Senior Environment Officer, Antigua

Our Partners

  • Organization of American States
  • United States Department of State
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Caribbean Tourism Organization
  • Caribbean Tourism
  • Tourism Promotion Agency of Central America
  • Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana

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Dominica Waterfall

Improving Waste Management in Dominica

Referred to as “The Nature Island,” Dominica attracts thousands of tourists each year to experience its wealth of forests, rivers and other natural attractions. However, growing waste management issues threaten the long-term health of these natural assets and prosperity of the tourism industry.

Over 4 million kilograms of waste were generated in Dominica in 2014, of which the tourism industry contributed approximately 4.5 percent. This substantial amount of waste poses a problem as Dominica’s waste management infrastructure is inadequate for current or future needs. Resources are limited and there is a need for additional collection trucks, haulers, and recycling collection points. In addition, the inconsistent enforcement of policies results in missed opportunities for improved waste management. Because there are no policies or resources in place to address food waste in hotels, organic matter that could be composted is instead being sent to landfills. There is also a general lack of public awareness about waste management issues and the related environmental concerns.

Our Role

Kalinago Territory Waste Management

Dominica is the only Caribbean island with a remaining population of pre-Colombian Carib Indians, now known as the Kalinago. The majority of this indigenous population lives in a series of small rural settlements that make up the Kalinago Territory on the northeastern coast of the Island. Due to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Kalinago, there is a high potential for community-based, cultural tourism in the region. This tourism development would create additional income opportunities for the communities, but it would also bring challenges such as added waste.

During an action-planning workshop conducted as part of the Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA), local stakeholders identified a priority project focused on improving waste management in the Kalinago Territory. The goal of the project is to develop a model waste management plan for the region. Town hall meetings will be held to discuss waste separation and create a collection schedule. In addition, local residents will receive training to become garbage collectors and a truck will be purchased to start collection. This project will help ensure the Kalinago Territory remains an attractive destination for visitors and residents alike as community-based tourism grows.

Composting for Tourism Businesses

In 2015, Sustainable Travel International partnered with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to develop a waste management tool for the tourism sector in Small Island Developing States. As part of this work, local stakeholders met for an on-site workshop and identified quick-win project ideas for improved waste management in Dominica’s tourism sector. Stakeholders chose to prioritize a project focused on implementing a food waste composting program in Roseau and its surrounding environs. Increasing the amount of food waste being composted by tourism businesses will reduce the amount of waste going to the island’s only landfill, prevent harmful environmental impacts, and lessen business costs. In addition, the implementation of a composting system also represents potential economic benefits as the finished compost could be sold for use by farmers or hotel gardens.

This pilot project will target participation of 20 hotels, restaurants and related entities in Roseau and its surrounding areas. The vision is to address composting at a national level by scaling up the pilot project to other regions of the country based on lessons learned and funding secured.

Protect the Places You Love

Your gift will help conserve our planet’s most vulnerable destinations and empower the people who live there

Related Work

Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas

Learn more about how the SDAA is combatting key environmental and human threats associated with tourism in the Caribbean and Latin America

Waste Issues

Learn more about how we’re addressing waste issues affecting other destinations