The Tongan Tourism Authority (TTA) says major efforts are being put into culture and heritage tourism as Tonga seeks to promote the uniqueness of its traditions and culture.
TTA Acting General Manager Owen Pau says the community has been working together to delve into their local histories and traditions in their efforts to highlight the wealth of culture in the island kingdom.
“In Tonga we have similar features as other South Pacific Islands so we try to focus on our culture, we focus our tourism on our Monarchy and the fact that we are the only remaining kingdom in the South Pacific and it is very valuable for us. We would like to focus on our culture and heritage as that is our point of difference and we want to share our culture and history with our visitors”, he said.
He said “telling their histories” has been an area of focus as Tongans are proud of their ancient traditions.
“One thing I have noted is that in Tonga we have not been able tell our story, our histories to our visitors. At the end of last year and early this year we have made a lot of effort to work with our villages and elderly to collaborate on information pertaining to our culture and heritage”, he added.
“Some of the villages have really dug deep and consulted with the elders to identify historical sites and they have erected interpretation signs in those areas and it’s really amazing. So you can now go to these villages and see the sign boards and read these histories”, he said.
“Not only is this good for our visitors, it is also good for our people as they are now becoming proud of whom they are and this makes them happy. This happiness transcends through to how we treat our visitors and they will see that we are happy to live in the kingdom”, he continued.
SPTO CEO Ilisoni Vuidreketi congratulated TTA for its work in promoting Tonga’s culture and heritage through tourism. “As a regional organization, SPTO takes its cue from National Tourism Offices (NTOs) like TTA in promoting niche market segments. While our member destinations have similar natural features, each is different with its unique selling points.”
“We are certainly pleased with the national programs of our NTOs that not only promote culture and tourism, but also encourage partnerships and collaboration with local communities and villages to ensure the preservation of their culture”.
TTA collaborated with SPTO in the conduct of two training workshops over the last two months that was attended by a total of 75 participants.