BY MIKE TUA
THE founder and director of the Imperial Travel Service, Mrs. Ender Rence vividly recall her ultimate journey of discoveries, challenges, and achievements.
Mrs. Rence had previously been a lucky recipient of two prestigious tourism events exactly two years ago. In 2018, she attended the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program in Honolulu Hawaii, and the 2019 Pacific Islands Sustainable Island Tourism Conference (SITC) in Vanuatu.
However, to be accepted as part of the Pacific Islands Sustainable Island Tourism Conference (SITC) held last year (November) in Luganville, Santo, Vanuatu was indeed another blessing for her.
Ender described Vanuatu as a ‘Beacon of Hope’ in Tourism and Agriculture in the Pacific and hopes the Solomon Islands can learn from Vanuatu and be hopeful for the future of ‘Mother Nature and Humanity’.
She hopes her experience in Vanuatu can trigger a new meaningful insight for our existing tourism stake-holders and the government leaders in the country.
“The conference in Vanuatu has offered a splendid picture of natural beauties and memorable sceneries. It is a new learning curve for me and simply a breathe taking experience I will fondly cherish for the rest of my life and I think it’s a sustainability model for other Pacific Islands countries.
“I believe our government leaders and tourism partners or stakeholders could learn from my experience and to be serious and not just talk, but lead with resources and actions in the Solomon Islands tourism industry as this was the case in Vanuatu.
“My experience in Vanuatu brings about some positive ideas to have a positive impact on our tourism industry in this country. This very important industry is people-oriented. Proactive leadership at all levels is very important to achieve and build our tourism industry,” she vividly expressed.
Here is her reflection story about the Post Pacific Islands Tourism Exchange programs and Conferences she attended over the years. Tourism Solomon Islands readers will digest from her inspiring reflection story.
“My name is Ender Naomi Fafoi Rence I operated my Tourism Transport business title Imperial Travel Service www.imperial-travel-services at times I want to call my services the “deliverer” I ensure at all times to deliver what I promise that is the “best services’, I’m based here in Honiara.
“This is a short reflection for my trip to Vanuatu in November 2019 to my first ever sustainable training or conference. How exciting isn’t it? All along I’m interested to explore sustainable, eco-tourism, and Agritourism.
What do exactly those terms mean in reality?
“Having been raised by my grandparents (Nellie Hata Wai-au Fafoi and Clement Willie Fafoi diseased). My grandparents always ensure they took me and my brother Kerry back to our village at Atori in East Malaita every end of the year for a few weeks or a month the longest depending on their annual leave. This is simply for me and my brother to stay connected to our land, environment, tribe, and people. We’d go back to our home in the village where our grandparents would take us to bush walks, to my grandma’s garden to plant that new banana species, or we’d plow the new local sweet potatoes at grand mama’s garden.
“For leisure, we’d go bushwalking, or go out paddling with my grandfather to his villages in Kwai or Ngaongosila islands or took me on a long paddling journey all the way (about an hour to see my grandfather’s cousin) through A’arai river to Aarai village in East Kwara’ae. Looking back I thought to myself those were important learning experiences for me. It’s something that I will always treasure in my life. I think those experiences play an important role in my upbringing whereby I’d always wanted to stay connected and interested in environmental and sustainable development and of course sustainable tourism is part of the bigger picture. That is always my stand. As I always believe and this has been proven in many businesses the spillover impact of sustainable tourism is huge especially the benefits it has to our environment, health, and particular our people.
“I will always continue to find out how businesses can contribute to bringing positive impacts through sustainable tourism for our families, communities, and the world. It’s more than a business for profit.
“I was a fortunate one to be part of the inaugural 2019 Sustainable Pacific Islands Tourism Conference, thanks to the East-West Center through the Department of States, the United States of America for the support all the way, which enables 10 of Pacific Islands Tourism Fellows alumni to be part of the Pacific Islands Sustainable Tourism Conference held In Santo Vanuatu.
“The Pacific Islands Sustainable Tourism Conference was organized and led by the Vanuatu Tourism Department with the support of many partners.
“Vanuatu Tourism Stakeholders came together and organized a Pacific Islands Sustainable Island Tourism Conference (SITC) in November 2019. The conference attracts International, regional, and local Tourism stakeholders speakers, and participants.
“What is sustainable tourism by the way? There are many definitions for sustainable tourism, According to sustainable tourism.com, sustainable tourism is a growing tourism industry and a buzzword in and around the globe that has caught global attention. My favorite definition is sustainable tourism is when we do tourism or any business, we must not destroy the natural beauty that our environment has given us. The business operations and gains from the tourism business or any other business we are operating must not destroy our way of living our culture, environment, and our people. This is simple to ensure our children their grandchildren and their future generation is protected and secured. So that our future generation too must enjoy the beautiful environment that their leaders leave behind as it is our foremothers and father did for us.
“As part of the promoting and encouraging sustainable tourism development in the pacific, the latest Pacific Islands Sustainable Tourism conference held at Teas beach Santo or formerly known as Champaign beach. The Vanuatu tourism stakeholders who had organized the conference have proven to do exactly as the principles of sustainable tourism and the title of the conference itself (walk the talk).
“When I knew I was selected to attend the conference (Thank you Scott Kroeker) I parked my suitcase with warmth and the things needed for an international conference. I packed warm clothes such as a coat, long pants, sox, cardigans, and wool. As some of you might expect at the international conferences that were what too. I was imagining a large room with very high cold temperatures that’s what our mines have been shifted into over the many years of conferences, meetings, and gatherings. I packed mostly clothes to stand in air-conditioned rooms.
“Fortunately, that was a different story altogether. The conference venue was designed to follow the eco and sustainable tourism principles, where it suits the island’s way or style, the island’s habits and way of living and doing things and of course go in line with the title of the conference “Sustainable Islands Tourism Conference.
“Bearing in mind the natural surroundings, the conference venue is very simple truly symbolizes the island way. The meeting or conference is designed just like some if not the most common way our people in the pacific do things more natural to put it that way, the meeting place is open and spacious for, families children, mothers father, enough space for relatives and visitors to meet or just relax.
“The conference set up and buildings use appropriate or green technologies as much as possible. The main conference house was build out of sago palm and other natural materials, the floor remains as natural as it is ensuring participants walk on the sand and feel the natural sand, and at the same time, participants and everyone was able to catch and feel the sea breeze while we enjoy the land breeze and view the green lush trees and listening and watched the birds.
“The ablution block and most powers are generated by Solar energy, our water is collected from rain and stored in a huge water tank, our plates were woven from sago palms, spoons, knives, forks, were either paper or banana leaves.
“Indeed, the conference house or hut allows us to see, feel, and experience what it means to be sustainable, which makes me still feeling amused.
“For me as a Solomon Islands participants at the Pacific Islands, Sustainable Tourism Conference made me realize that economic development can be achieved and well managed through sustainable tourism by way of environment-friendly initiatives such as protecting and preserving our forests, marine areas, etc. Promoting sustainable tourism and other sustainable development that’s going to help us protect our vulnerable natural resources encouraging more so no air condition needed, no warm clothes needed.
“That’s not all during the break we were allowed to visit a nature reserve park and the Matevulu blue hole which was part of the SITF itinerary. The tour has given thought us to be conscious about the way we utilize our natural resources. Matevulu blue hole or pool (one of the highlight attractions in Santo Vanuatu) for example stays as it is there is no big development, it’s just the natural pool with basic walkway and huts that are built out of local material and the bush ropes use as swings. That’s it, no need to build fancy huge infrastructure as long as the attraction is accessible for everybody, safe for visitors to enjoy the nature and natural beauty that’s all we need, keeping our attractions, natural and simple as it is. By keeping sustainable, simple everybody and everything contributes and benefits.
Sustainable tourism benefits cover many aspects in our lives such as community, eco, and geo-tourism, and worth mentioning very important since we are faced with climate change, unsustainable harvesting of our resources, and our natural resources depleting very fast, which leads to loss of our biodiversity and ecological systems. “Sustainable Tourism or Sustainable Development is the only way forward for Small islands Nation, as it is very crucial for the protection of the scarce from impacts of development.
“Vanuatu Department of Tourism is a leader in sustainable tourism development in the Pacific. They have supporters who pulled together what I termed as a successful conference that is well designed eco-friendly, it is still one of the best conferences I had ever attended. The conference is simple, enjoy natural beauty and I think Vanuatu is a sustainability model for other pacific islands country. Also worth mentioning Vanuatu has banned plastic single-use to almost 99%.
“It’s just unfortunate that our group did not go for our sustainable hunting for Thanksgiving. Fortunately, Uncle Joe shared some of his best Sustainable Thanksgiving recipes with us every morning while we were traveling on our one hour drive to Teas beach.
“I must applaud the organizers of the conference for a well-executed plan.
“Also East-west center for selecting 10 of us from the East-West Center Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Alumni to participate and continue to discover and learn about sustainable tourism development in the Pacific and around the globe from experienced speakers and tourism operators.”