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Source: www.asiaecon.org |

FIJI'S TOURISM INDUSTRY


Tourism is Fiji's largest industry, earning over $250 million and employing over 40,000 people in 2004. The tourism industry has grown at an annual rate of 10 to 12 percent over the last decade, but has slowed in the last few years. The majority of visitors come from the Pacific, specifically Australia and Fiji itself, but Fiji is pushing hard to reach the growing Chinese population.



Tourism is Fiji’s largest industry, earning over $250 million and employing over 40,000 people in 2004. The tourism industry has grown at an annual rate of 10 to 12 percent over the last decade, but has slowed in the last few years. The majority of visitors come from the Pacific, specifically Australia and Fiji itself, but Fiji is pushing hard to reach the growing Chinese population.

Fiji’s tourism is now struggling amid the global financial crisis and political instability. The political situation is very uncertain following the military coup in December of 2006, and some travelers have been weary to visit. Also aided by flooding in January, the tourism industry was down 27.6 percent in January compared to January of 2008. Total visitor arrival figures dropped to 32,955. Fiji Tourism chairman Patrick Wong said, “All our major source markets, new and emerging markets registered a decline except for Pacific Island visitors arrivals registering the only growth of 6.7.”

In 2008, total arrivals were 582,602 registering an 8 percent increase over 2007. But this year, the numbers are expected to drop. Mr. Wong said the industry has taken a unified approach in addressing currents issues and plans to work with the media and government to ensure tourism remains strong.

The first major attempt to stimulate tourism was launched this week. The million dollar campaign called “Stimulate Me” will attempt to stimulate the tourism industry by increasing awareness and marketing. One step to increasing Fiji awareness is to offer the opportunity to win one of ten Fiji holidays.

Another attempt to stimulate tourism is the Ministry of Tourism’s accreditation program. Called the Sustainable Tourism Accreditation Program, it will introduce improvements to tourism service provider’s operations, particularly service standards. The program further aims for greater environmental, economic and socio-cultural sustainability by providing incentives and technical assistance. The plan should improve the overall reputation of the industry by differentiating and distinguishing tourism products and services that meet environmental, socio-cultural and economic standards beyond the level required by the current legislation.

Temalesi Vuruyu, owner and operator of Biana Accommodation, has benefited directly from the program. The Tourism Ministry helped build Mrs. Vuruya three furnished, self-contained units and provided a computer with Internet access so clients can make reservations online. With the additional money she now earns, Mrs. Vuruya has been able to support her family and send her two sons to school.

Besides stimulus plans and increased spending to boost the tourism industry, many tourism operators, hotels and airlines are slashing prices to increase traffic. One such bargain includes a package put together by Tourism Fiji, the Fiji Islands Hotels and Tourism Association (FIHTA) and the international airline Air Pacific. The all-inclusive package will cover air fare, hotel stay, meals, and all taxes and transfer fees; prices will represent a savings of at least 50 percent. Other packages include sport-orientated deals, especially rugby and football. Tourism leaders also plan on focusing on short term trips, theorizing that most travelers will have less money to spend amid the financial crisis.

The government is also doing its share to boost the industry by nearly doubling tourism’s budget allotment to $F23 million ($12.28 million) for 2009. The majority of the increased capital will be spend on marketing in Australia and New Zealand, which together provide 60 percent of Fiji’s tourists. Air Pacific, the government owned airline, is also making a push to reach the growing Chinese market by offering direct flights from Hong Kong to replace the dwindling Tokyo route. Connecting continental Europe and Great Britain are also short-term goals.

The most important factor for returning to double digit tourism growth is to win back Australian tourists. Recently, the Australian government has changed its travel warning to potential Fiji visitors following the 2006 coup, now saying only that they should exercise caution, avoid public gatherings and monitor the the media for any security risks. After 2008 visitors numbers from Australia missed expectations, the numbers are once again optimistic at 282,000 in 2009 and 325,000 in 2010.


Source: www.AsiaEcon.org
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Source: www.asiaecon.org |


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