Traditional skills helped people to sustain during COVID phase

Published on : Tuesday, November 3, 2020

By COVID-19, the tourism sector in the South Pacific has been massively hit with border close downs with thousands of people without their jobs.

In Vanuatu, one in four jobs can be found in tourism and one in three jobs in Cook Islands. The sector contributes between 20% and 70% of the GDP of countries starting from Samoa and Vanuatu to Fiji and Cook Islands.

However our research has indicated that how people are currently living – and in some cases, somehow surviving in the face of significant income loss.
This is because of their reliance on customary knowledge, systems and practices. The research surveyed 106 people, along with interviews in six locations heavily dependent on tourism across five countries.

The Pacific islands used in the research. Peter Hermes Furian
Research associates based in these countries interviewed villages next to resorts, or communities that offered cultural tours for the passengers of cruise ships.

They spoke with former and current tourism workers, community members and business owners who showed how they had made to the current situation and what they hoped the future would hold.

90% of more of the survey respondents lived in households with significant income reduction. Owners of tourism-related businesses faced financial damage, with 85% of them saying they lost three-quarters or more of their usual income.

However, people showed substantial adaptive capacities and flexibility in thinking of strategies to meet their needs amidst huge loss of earnings. Over half the respondents were growing food to sustain their lives. Also, many took to fishing. For food, people talked about using the natural abundance of the land and sea.

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