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Tourism

Air transportation presents a major constraint for tourism development in Kiribati. Kiribati is not located on major air routes.

Tarawa has only two airline carriers offering international air services - Our Airline and Fiji Airways. Service is once or twice per week.

Most visitors originate outside the air service points (Brisbane, Australia and Nadi, Fiji) necessitating connecting services with possible layovers and high fares.

A while ago a small number of cruise ships called on Tabuaeran but this has ceased.

Hotel accommodations in Kiribati are limited and not of an international standard.

Tourism infrastructure is lacking in Kiribati.

Formal activities for visitors are quite limited throughout Kiribati

Differentiation To Other Tourist Markets

Most of the atolls that make up Kiribati are somewhat similar with few distinguishing points of natural scenic interest other than the ocean, lagoons, beaches and palm trees.

Kiritimati offer visitors a profusion and diversity of fish and birdlife not usually found elsewhere. On Kiritimati recreational activities are much better developed especially for sportsfishing.

Tarawa contains war relics from the Battle of Tarawa which was fought during World War II.

Abemama is where Robert L. Stevenson once lived.

The principal attraction on most islands is the unspoiled charm and traditional culture and lifestyle.

Economic Benefits

Tourism represents a major opportunity for economic development in Kiribati.

Tourism development would results in job creation, export earnings, improved services and better physical infrastructure.

Most tourism receipts in Kiribati today are from foreign visitors - it is an export industry and brings additional income into the country.

The economic benefit of tourism is mitigated by the leakages of goods and services that are imported from overseas.

Tourism creates another benefit for the economy by permitting industries to develop focusing on import substitution so that the currently imported goods can be provided domestically. The tourists increase the market for the goods and in turn improve economies of scale for local production.

Tourism is labour intensive and could provide employment. This would be very beneficial for the young population. It would employ local people. However, other factors need consideration such as willingness to work in a service industry, level of education and the level of wages in tourism compared to the government sector.

Additional education and training will be necessary to ensure that I-Kiribati are able to benefit from tourism employment without relying on foreign workers.

Tourism will result in opportunities for private sector enterprises.

Tourism development on Kiritimati (and the outer islands) can facilitate employment opportunities and assist government resettlement to these islands. This could reduce the urban pressures on South Tarawa.

Social and Cultural Impacts

Tourism development in Kiribati will impact the culture and social structure of the nation.

Tourism would lead to economic development and result in modernization.

Tourism offers numerous positive impacts such as improving infrastructure, increasing economic activity, a cleaner environment, more recreational facilities and may assist in cultural preservation.

Potential negative impacts may result including changes in value systems, individual behaviour, family relationships, work activities and other social and cultural areas.

Government Tourism Policy

The Government tourism goals include preserving the traditional Kiribati culture, providing employment, improving infrastructure, safeguarding the environment and economic growth.

The main areas for tourism development are Tarawa and Kiritimati because they are currently the two primary visitor destinations.

Investment incentives are available from the government for tourism projects but on a case by case basis. Rather than being legislated the assistance is offered subjectively and this may be a deterrent and increase bureaucratic red tape.

Foreign aid grants for tourism projects are actively sought.

The Ministry of Natural Resource Development (MNRD) has the lead role for tourism development in the Gilbert Islands.

The Ministry of Line and Phoenix Group (LINNEX) has the lead role for tourism development for the rest of Kiribati.

The Kiribati Visitors Bureau was established by MNRD.

International Air Transportation Access

Air transportation access for Kiribati is important for tourism due to Kiribati's remoteness.

Most international visitors to Kiribati arrive by air.

Objectives include :
  • Encourage international airline to service Kiribati
  • Encourage direct air access between Kiribati and tourism-generating markets such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States
  • Upgrade airport facilities at Tarawa and Kiritimati

Infrastructure

Tourism requires infrastructure and infrastructure for tourism is lacking.

Future tourism growth will place increasing demands on the infrastructure in Kiribati. Without infrastructure development the existing infrastructure will not cope.

Objectives include :
  • Improving the airports and seaports
  • Improving basic infrastructure such as communications (internet and telephone), water supplies, electrical power, sewerage, trash disposal and transportation
  • Encouraging high quality hotel development
  • Encouraging domestic air services

Environmental Protection

The physical environment of the atolls of Kiribati serve as an attraction for tourists.

This environment needs to be preserved for both residents and tourists.

Objectives include :
  • Tourism in Kiribati may need to be relatively small-scale to avoid overwhelming the infrastructure and culture
  • Establish a monitoring system for environmental impacts of tourism
  • New regulations for the protection of wildlife
  • Establish land use controls for tourism development
  • Instigate programs for the preservation, interpretation and/or disposal of military relics in Kiribati
  • Preservation of historical sites in the Gilbert and Line Islands

Investment

Without investment tourism will not progress.

Objectives include :
  • Improve existing regulation and incentives to make tourism investment more attractive for both domestic and foreign investors
  • Establish specific investment policies and incentives that would directly encourage tourism development
  • Actively encourage investment in tourism
  • Encourage banks to allow greater access to loanable funds for tourism businesses

Reducing Leakages

Leakages in the Kiribati economy reduce the national economic benefits of tourism. Import substitution is imperative to maximise the benefit of tourism to Kiribati.

Objectives include :
  • The development of local businesses to replace the hight leakage sectors
  • Encourage hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses to purchase local goods and services to prevent leakage
  • Some goods and services are not currently viable if produced domestically. The tourism industry may increase demand for these goods and services and the combined tourism and domestic demand may make import substitution viable

Education

Education is essential to produce a high quality tourism sector.

Education is needed for the all levels of tourism worker from management to people serving the tourists.

Objectives include :
  • Educate workers to understand cultural differences and to meet the expectations of the tourist
  • Hotel management training is important to run a viable business
  • Education for the tourism industry on expanding the industry beyond hotels and restaurants