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9.0 Sustainable Tourism Development

Pohnpei’s tourism attractions based on its natural, historical, and cultural sites are well-situated to appeal to special interest tourism. There appears to be considerable consensus in both the public and private sectors to support a sustainable tourism model as a conceptual basis for Pohnpei’s tourism development. The model involves planning which will ensure that the natural and cultural resources are indefinitely maintained and not degraded or destroyed in the process of development. Implementation of sustainable tourism development would entail small-scale, long-term tourism development and the careful monitoring and control of the location, type, and scale of development through effective land use planning and zoning. In order to succeed, tourism policies would need to be actively implemented, strictly enforced, and holistically integrated into Pohnpei’s overall development objectives. Based on the criteria of sustainable tourism development, three alternative growth scenarios, referred to as Scenarios A, B, and C, were formulated for illustrative purposes. They are based on visitor growth rates of 10, 15 and 20-25 percent, respectively, beginning with a 1993 visitor count of 11,000. The scenarios are presented in two case years - 1996 and 2001. Of concern in developing these projections was the disparity between the growth rates in hotel rooms and visitor arrivals, a condition which by 1994 was expected to drop hotel occupancies to near 30 percent on average. Thus, an attempt was made to reflect a better balance between hotel room supply and visitor demand by targeting an occupancy rate of 50 percent by 2001. Variables used in determining the outcomes of the scenarios were developed to determine room inventory, visitor expenditures, visitor expenditure income, direct visitor industry employment, total visitor industry-related employment, and government revenue.

Under Scenario A, the “moderate growth” scenario, visitor arrivals would reach 14,600 by 1996 and 23,600 by 2001. This reflects a situation whereby tourism policy would remain basically unchanged although further hotel development would have to be curtailed. Scenario 0, the “rapid growth” scenario, would see annual arrivals at 19,000 by 1996 and 58,000 by 2001. It offers the greatest economic benefits, but at the cost of extensive government investment in tourism promotion, training, attraction development, and infrastructure improvements. Scenario B, the “intermediate growth” scenario, would attain 16,700 arrivals by 1996 and 33,600 arrivals by 2001. This scenario illustrates a compromise between Scenarios A and C calling for a modest increase in tourism investment by the state while producing optimum economic gains that are realistic and sustainable. As such, Scenario B has been recommended as the preferred scenario for use in the Pohnpei Tourism Development Action Plan.

10.0 Strategy Recommendations

Among the principal constraints to sustainable tourism development is the inadequacy of governmental policies and strategies to deal with problems of infrastructure, investment, marketing and promotion, land-use planning and zoning, sociocultural impacts, and administration of tourism. The primary thrust of the recommendations is to provide strategies for sustainable tourism development to achieve benefits without excessive sociocultural and environmental costs.

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