Kiribati gets tourism act together


<p style="text-align: justify;">Despite the fact that it straddles three time zones in the equatorial Pacific, with one of the highest land area to territorial waters ratios, Kiribati is one of the Pacific Islands region’s most isolated and hard to reach countries.<!--more--></p>

[caption id="attachment_1479" align="alignright" width="260" caption="Bone Fishing on Kirimati (Christmas) Island"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-1479" title="Bone Fishing Christmas - Web" src="" alt="" width="260" height="183" /></a>[/caption]
<p style="text-align: justify;">In recent years, it has captured world headlines because of the perceived risk that climate change, particularly sea level rise, poses to the flat atolls. The highest points on most of Kiribati’s atolls are just a few metres above mean sea level. This has caused massive erosion and damage to the country’s agriculture.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">People from smaller atolls several hours of sailing away have been migrating to its capital Tarawa in search of livelihoods and security causing a surge in the urban population.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Kiribati’s tourism potential has scarcely been tapped. But that’s beginning to change. The country registered the highest proportion of growth in visitor arrivals among all Pacific Islands Forum countries in the first quarter of this year: a whopping 36.30 per cent against a regional average of just 2.5 percent, which itself is encouraging in times when most tourism markets are experiencing a downturn.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">And the country’s small and under-resourced tourism set up is rising to the occasion. The July issue of the popular Australian Senior Travel Magazine carried a special on Kiribati’s tourism potential with a particular focus on bone fishing on Kirtimati (Christmas) Island, which is otherwise popular with nostalgia tourists because of World War-II sites on and off the atoll.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The island has been praised as the “world’s supreme venue for fishermen taking on the fighting and speedy species known as bonefish.” Angling Adventures, the company that specialises in bone fishing tourism, says it has received more than 200 bookings for the rest of the year.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Kiribati tourism last month announced a new initiative to make check-ins at its airport in Tarawa that much more pleasant and hassle free. When you order a “Care-free Coffee Check-in Special” at Bikenibeu’s Chatterbox Café before arriving at the airport you will receive your boarding card with your preferred seat assigned along with a departure card which entitles you to an “express baggage drop”, according to a communiqué from the Kiribati Tourism Office.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Photo / Kiribati National Tourism Organization</p>