For centuries, components of culture from Pacific Island States have been commodified in various forms of media within the cultural tourism industry. In recent years, though these media representations have shifted away from encouraging direct colonial exploitation, cultural tourism efforts still pose complicated questions about the amount of agency Polynesian individuals have how they are represented. While tourism is a significant sector of the economy in Pacific Islands Countries (PICs), it’s important to consider whether or not Polynesian people have the economic and social freedoms to influence how they share their culture rather than having it be offered up for colonial consumption. This paper will examine the economic and colonial histories of various PICs in order to understand what role tourism plays in Polynesian Island-State economies. Ultimately, while it significantly contributes to local economies and development work, cultural tourism often fails to offer individuals social and economic agency in sharing cultural elements.



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