This article continues our list of official, government-sponsored tourism boards of Oceania. Geographers apply the name Oceania to an enormous and diverse region of the Pacific. It includes Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands in Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian chains.
In a previous article, we described the superlative support systems and websites created by the governments of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea to help travel industry professionals attract tourists to their countries. Here, we focus on the independent nations in the three major groups of Pacific Islands in Oceania: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.
"Oceania" is not a precise term. Its meaning depends upon whether one considers geologic, biogeographic, ecogeographic, or geopolitical boundaries. We rely on the geopolitical definition of Oceania, used by the United Nations and many atlases. It excludes the islands of the Indo-Austrialian Archipelago: Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Malasia and the Phillipines.
Some of Oceania's islands are independent countries. Others remain foreign possessions or overseas territories of such nations as Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, the UK and the US. This list focuses on the independent countries of Oceania, except Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Apart from the Australian continent, Oceania has three major regions: Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The independent nations of Melanesia are Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Micronesia's are Nauru, Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap). Polynesia includes four sovereign nations: Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and New Zealand.
Undersea volcanic eruptions created Oceania's larger islands. Many of the smaller grew from living coral. The land, sea, sky, biodiversity and culture of Oceania weave a colorful, sensual tapestry, spanning the environmental spectrum from deserted rock to tropical paradise.
The South Pacific Tourism Organization is a consortium of 14 South Pacific island destinations. They have pooled their resources to create a splendid website, with informational, promotional, and educational materials for tourism professionals, including a specialist program. The site also provides links to the official tourism agencies of the individual member countries, and other useful links.
The 14 members of SPTO are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tahiti, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Samoa, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. All except the Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, and Tahiti are independent countries.
Located on the western edge of Micronesia, about 400 miles east of the Philippines, Palau is a group of over 200 islands, ranging in size from small to tiny -- total area 174 square miles (459 sq km).
Renowned for its unspoiled cultural and natural environment, Palau is among the fastest growing tourist destinations in Oceania. Magnificent reef lagoons make Palau a favorite among divers.
The nation's flag depicts a full moon on a sea blue field. The moon symbolizes peace, love and tranquility; virtues the Paluan people exemplify.
The Federated States of Micronesia are four nations -- Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap -- in the Caroline Islands, east of Palau. The FSM control 607 islands, 16 of which are inhabited. They lie about 6 degrees 55 minutes North of the Equator, sprinkled across a longitudinal distance of 1,678 miles (2,700 km). Though their total land mass is only 270.8 square miles (702 sq km), the islands occupy over a million square miles (2,600,000 sq km) of the Pacific Ocean.
The approximately 110,000 citizens of the FSM speak 17 different languages. This diversity creates extraordinary cultural tourism opportunities. For example, Yap -- an island renowned for its diving -- is blessed with an intact indigenous culture that preserves rich dance and ritual traditions, and a strange, ancient monetary system.
If you have clients who think they've been everywhere and seen it all, consider offering them the FSM experience.