Under the new partnership, which kicks off in March, the organisations will promote smoke-free public places and increase opportunities for people to eat healthy local foods and get physically active.
The partnership also aims to support improved accessibility for persons with disabilities in the tourism sector.
Cook Islands Tourism chief executive officer Halatoa Fua said the partnership between SPTO and WHO would raise awareness on healthy living, particularly a productive workforce.
This, he said, was a key focus of sustainable tourism and a long term strategy that they would benefit from.
“We agree in principle that healthy tourism is very important. A tourism industry that provide opportunities for healthier choices will add value to the destination.”
In a statement, Dr Corinne Capuano, WHO representative for the South Pacific and director of Pacific Technical Support, said there was a growing demand for healthy tourism options.
She said this was a great opportunity to not only expand the tourism market, but also promote health.
“Tourism is a major employer and driver of development in the Pacific, and eliminating employees’ exposure to tobacco smoke will result in a healthier, more productive workforce,” Dr Capuano said.
“Increasing opportunities for people to eat healthily and be physically active while ensuring tourist sites, public transport, hotels and restaurants are accessible to people with disabilities also has huge benefits for both visitors and local communities.”
The chief executive of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, Christopher Cocker, said tourism was a leading industry for development in the Pacific.
He said this was expected to continue with a healthy and happy workforce that continued to serve visitors well.
“When the workforce is productive, they will provide optimum service, whilst visitors to our shores enjoy their holiday and keep returning to our island destinations,” Cocker said.
“There is still a great need in the Pacific’s tourism industry to educate the workforce on healthy living, particularly in preventing non-communicable diseases. We look towards preparing our workforce and upgrading tourism facilities to ensure accessibility for persons with disabilities. SPTO welcomes this partnership with WHO.”
The statement said in the coming year, the Pacific would welcome an estimated 2.1 million visitors who could benefit from this partnership to support healthy islands.
- Rashneel Kumar/Release