12 Complete Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program 

After the 12thth Pacific Islands Conference of Leaders in Honolulu last week, the Pacific Tourism Organization had the privilege of attending a reception celebrating a portion of the 2020 cohort of the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program.

The Professional Fellows Program is funded by the US Department of State and administered by the East-West Center. Initiated by the East-West Center in 2018, the initiative is a four-week program designed to build significant new skills and foster lasting professional bonds among tourism professionals in the United States and the Pacific Islands.

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 cohort engaged virtually and was only able to travel to the United States that year. Having now completed a three-week internship at various organizations in Hawaii, the group is now in Washington for the final week of the program.

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With twelve fellows from Fiji (4), Solomon Islands (2), Papua New Guinea (1), Vanuatu (2) and Timor-Leste (3), the group is part of a larger cohort of 32, which is the latest cohort under this program . The remainder of the group is scheduled to complete the personal component of the program in November.

Going forward, SPTO will continue to work with the East-West Center through the Professional Fellows Program Opportunity for Young Economic Empowerment Leaders. As with previous agreements between the organizations, SPTO will assist in reviewing and providing recommendations on applicants for the program. In addition, a representative from the SPTO will make a presentation during orientation week for each of the three cohorts in the program beginning in February 2023.

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Christopher Cocker, CEO of SPTO, noted SPTO’s partnership with the East-West Center and recognized the importance of professional development to the Pacific.

“Capacity building through international exposure and programs like the Pacific Islands Tourism Professional Fellows Program is so important to professionals in the region. These initiatives provide an opportunity to expand mindsets, build networks and of course contribute to building globally competitive industries here in the Pacific.”

“As this group nears the end of the program, I want to congratulate them on representing the Pacific well and I encourage them to share their insights with their peers in the industry upon their return. We value our partnership with the East West Center and look forward to following the progress of the rest of the group in November,” said Mr Cocker.


“The East-West Center proudly recognizes the Professional Fellows for the successful completion of their fellowships. We wish all 12 well as they return home and seek to put their learning into action to support economic development in their communities. It was great to have SPTO involved in the graduation reception as they were a valued partner throughout the program,” said Mr. Scott Kroeker, director of the East-West Center’s Professional Development Program.

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