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Tourism in the Trenches: Tuvalu

When most people think of vacation, what comes to mind? Often, the first destinations that come to mind include the Bahamas, Caribbean, Hawaii, or some other popular destinations. Even though these countries contain intricate architecture and entertaining events, other countries and cities that are not as well known can hold their own beautiful scenery and welcoming natives. One country that has yet to be appreciated for its vacationing potential is Tuvalu.

Made up of nine small coral islands in Oceania, Tuvalu is one of the least visited countries in the world. With only two weekly flights to the main island, Tuvalu receives only 800 people annually, compared to Paris, France, which welcomes over 30 million tourists per year.

Although Tuvalu may not have the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame, the island group has its own history. The first settlers of the island arrived from Samoa around the 14th Century along with fewer numbers from Tonga, the Northern Cook Islands, Rotuma, and the Gilbert Islands. They lived peacefully within their small community until the 19th Century when labor recruiters from Peru kidnapped over 400 people – reducing Tuvalu’s population to only 2,500. However, once the Tuvaluans established Protestant Christianity, the group of islands gained protection from the British.

With much European and Western influence, the majority of Tuvalu is taught and speaks English. However, this does not diminish its culture and background. The majority of Tuvaluans speak Tuvaluan – a language similar to Samoan. Although Western amenities have been introduced, the islands still live in small villages of around 100 people. Many of the Tuvaluans farm homegrown fruits and vegetables and fish from handmade canoes which allows them to maintain a firm base of community consensus and identity. The only steady electricity can be found on the main island, Funafuti, and satellite television can only be reached by subscription. 

When tourists arrive, there is no welcoming tour guide to lead them around the islands. Instead, tourists are expected to explore Tuvalu themselves using a motorbike or feet as transportation. Although Tuvalu is a small community, after enjoying a refreshing swim in the Pacific Ocean, visitors can taste breadfruit, bananas, and other foods that are native to the land. 

Compared to the wonders that Paris, Rome, and Tokyo have to offer, Tuvalu’s experiences may seem underwhelming, but after being welcomed into the community, people may find that they enjoy the peaceful vacation to Tuvalu more than one to a bustling city. Next time that people go on vacation, perhaps instead of buying tickets to the most popular destination, they will stop and think about other locations that can offer a different, but just as pleasant, experience.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Works Cited (APA 7 Style)

Gifford, E. (n.d.). 10 Undiscovered Countries to Visit Before Everyone Else Does. Travel Channel. Retrieved November 23, 2021, from https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/10-undiscovered-countries-to-visit-before-everyone-else-does#:~:text=The%20tiny%20nation%20of%20Nauru

Latest France Tourism Statistics & Industry Trends (2020). (n.d.). Condor Ferries. https://www.condorferries.co.uk/france-tourism-statistics#:~:text=Paris%20brings%20in%20over%2030

Macdonald, B. K. (2019). Tuvalu | Culture, History, People, & Facts. In Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Tuvalu

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