National Qualifications to boost Tonga’s tourism industry

Image: Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau (middle) with the Tonga Skills Team Leader, Sally Bannah (left) and Skills Coordinator, Tu’ifua Takapautolo (right)

Last year, a total number of 64 national certificates were awarded to students who completed tourism-related courses. The development of these courses was led by the Director of Pacific Studies and Tourism Management at the Auckland Institute of Studies, Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau with assistance from members of the tourism industry to identify areas for upskilling. To date, five (5) of these qualifications have been registered with the Tonga National Qualifications Accreditation Board (TNQAB) and can be offered by any interested TVET institution. Registration of the final two qualifications is expected in early 2020. The seven (7) courses are; Customer Service level 3, Front Office Management level 4, Tour Guides level 3, Whale Guides level 4, Hospitality Food and Beverage level 3, Commercial Cookery level 3 and Commercial Cookery level 4.

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A press release from the Ministry of Tourism stated that the courses were identified from “the need to upskill and provide more training targeting the gaps in the tourism labour force, in order for tourism to realise its full potential. The Ministry is looking forward to a blooming industry with high quality standards of services and products available for tourists and visitors to the Kingdom of Tonga.”


Picture of ITAC Tourism meeting at the Ministry of Tourism office

ITAC Tourism meeting at the Ministry of Tourism office

This is a positive outcome of the collaboration between the TNQAB, Ministry of Tourism and Tonga Skills in enabling expanded pathways to recognized trainings. Tonga Skills continues to support the TNQAB Annual Skills Development Plan, with a focus on the constitution of Industry Training Advisory Councils Committees (ITACs) to develop, validate and endorse standards and their associated qualifications in priority sectors. This is part of the Tonga Skills program goal for a more coordinated, responsive, flexible and inclusive national skill development system in Tonga.


Image: Nick Towner and Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau leading the development of the national skills qualifications

Nick Towner and Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau leading the development of the national skills qualifications

Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau said “It was very pleasing to see over 50 national certificates handed out by Her Royal Highness [Princess Latufuipeka Mata’aho] to so many grateful young Tongan boys and girls, seeing that they have, for the first time acquired national skills qualifications. The primary aim is to upskill their life, employment and at the same time bring them up to another level, where they can see themselves climbing up the ladder in either employment or in education.”

Click here to view the video clip of Dr. Semisi Taumoepeau’s comment.


Picture of Sesilia Faka'osi

Ms Sesilia Faka’osi graduated with two national certificates in Customer Service Level 3 and Front Office Management Level 4 from the Tonga Institute of Higher Education. Sesilia is currently working at the Waterfront Lodge and Restaurant. She said, “These courses have helped me in actually putting our skills in action, especially in the service workplace, where we rotate through service, waitressing and house-keeping. They (courses) have helped me to deal with different people in the service area. Different people have different personalities, so you have to know how to deal with them. I would really like to shape myself into the future as a Manager in the Hotel industry or cabin crew in the airline industry. Thank you to the Australian Government through TNQAB and Tonga Skills for this opportunity to learn these multiple courses in Level 3 and 4, and how to apply them in real life”.

Click here to view Sesilia Faka’osi’s comment on youtube.



Tonga Skills program is an initiative of the Australian Government for inclusive economic growth in Tonga