Etuate Tesi, Nubutautau’s Turaga ni Koro (village headman), tourism committee member and guide shares his views on sustainable tourism:
For me, being involved in the tourism business for the past 3 years has been an experience. It has also taught me a lot of things. One of them is to adjust myself to every situation, but that does not mean changing the way I look at life.
I was recently faced with a situation that was a little out of my comfort zone, I say, a little, because I get to talk with guests and also brief them when we are about to go trekking. But, this was different because I was asked to talk to a tourism industry audience in Nadi and the environment was totally new to me.
During one of their trips earlier this year, up in Nubutautau, Marita asked if I could join her at a GendaDISRUPT event in Nadi. At first I was a bit reluctant but with encouragement, I said, “why not?”.
The talk in Nadi was an industry talk and Talanoa Treks were invited to share experiences of their social enterprise, the partnership with the four rural communities and the types of changes it was having.
The date was Saturday 18 March. I was going to talk a little bit about myself and about Nubutautau and what impact the tourist industry has had on our village.
Marita was talking on the business side of things, how they got started, and also the partnership they have formed with the four communities.
We were the last people to present, and hearing our friends present we kept encouraging each other and saying that we were different. When it was our turn to go up, we were both nervous, but we managed it well.
To me, that experience will stay with me for a long time, because I got to tell me side of the story on how I have evolved and most importantly the village through this initiative.
Also, that sustainable tourism has to be the only way forward for Fiji and also the world. And, as resource owners, it is up to us to do it.