10 Feb 2004

NGO head says the Pacific has to look more to sustainable tourism for its economic health

8:32 am on 10 February 2004

The head of an international development organisation says it's time Pacific Island countries stopped relying on charity to boost their ailing economies.

The president of Counterpart International, Lelei LeLaulu - who works in Washington DC - says they should wake up to tourism.

Mr Lelaulu says it offers huge opportunities at a time of dwindling donor support for development.

"We're not going to get the help that we think we need from the richer countries of the world. We have to take matters into our own hands and find the tools that we need to develop ourselves. And we think that sustainable tourism is the single most powerful tool available to small island states to pull themselves out of poverty."

Mr LeLaulu says he believes that tourism and its impact on island economies should top the agenda at a Small Island Developing States meeting in Mauritius in August.

He says it is the only major industry where the consumer goes to the producer.

Mr LeLaulu says overall assistance for small islands fell from 2.3 billion US dollars in 1994 to 1.7 billion in 2002.