Tourism Is The Future Driver Of Economic Activity in Fiji
The following is the speaking notes from the Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Shaheen Ali at the Second Consultation of the Fijian Tourism 2021, yesterday
Representatives from the tourism industry,
Representatives from relevant Government departments and agencies,
Key tourism industry stakeholder,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
I welcome you to the second consultation on the Fijian Tourism Development Plan now known as Fijian Tourism 2021.
We had a very interactive and productive session in Suva last week.
The presence of the key stakeholders in today’s session will be a vital step goes to show the commitment of the industry players towards the well-being and future development of the tourism sector, which is the main drive of this Plan.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The tourism sector is the most important contributor to the Fijian economy, contributing 30 per cent to our GDP and providing direct and indirect employment to one in three Fijians in the workforce.
There is no doubt that tourism is the future driver of economic activity in Fiji.
The visitor arrivals and earnings have been reaching record numbers consistently over the past few years. Last year, despite the effects of Cyclone Winston, visitor arrivals increased by five per cent to 792,320.
We want this trend not only to continue but further improve, especially in terms of earnings. Therefore, the Government saw the need for a consolidated and coordinated effort towards the growth of the industry.
In this regard, the Fijian Government began work on the tourism development plan to set strategies that will elevate the industry to a $2.2 billion by the end of 2021. Today’s process brings us very close to the fruition of the plan.
The draft strategies that will be discussed today have been developed as a result of months of hard work.
And this is not the first time that stakeholders will provide their input to the strategies.
You will, however, note that the strategies have evolved and have been brought in line with the overall vision of the Fijian Government, which is to provide the enabling environment to elevate the tourism sector to provide livelihood, income and to benefit all Fijians.
Whilst ensuring that there are economic benefits for all Fijians, we have to ensure that industry grows in a sustainable manner.
Sustainable development is not only considering the needs of future generations, it is also about protecting existing tourism infrastructure and services from environmental impacts. It is about keeping this sector – vital to our economy – resilient to climate-related catastrophe.
Therefore, we need work together as a “Team Fiji” to protect our environment, flora, fauna and biodiversity, to preserve our cultures and heritage, support our local communities and simply take responsibility for our actions.
These, ladies and gentlemen, are key components of the Plan and are embedded in the Plan starting from the objectives.
In a nutshell, the “Fijian Tourism 2021” is a comprehensive plan that aims to address the fundamental issues for the continued development of the Fijian tourism industry.
Today, we will present to you the nine thematic areas, under each area are very specific, practical and achievable strategies.
In summary the key strategies, essentially focus on:
1.Building an industry that is resilient, productive and focuses on quality.
2.Rigorous marketing of the Fijian brand in the traditional markets to explore the untapped potential, and also targeting new and emerging markets of Asia.
- Investments in infrastructure that will lead to investment in the tourism industry.
4.Influencing quality investment to grow the industry in a sustainable manner. Provision of the best tourism industry incentives.
5.Rolling out business support programmes that will provide tourism businesses (especially micro, small and medium business) with the opportunity to enhance their capability to promote their businesses, taking advantage of international online platforms.
6.Capacity building in the tourism industry to enable improvement in standards.
We will also target specialised training and address skills shortages in the tourism industry.
7.Enhanced coordination between Government Ministries and promotion agencies to, firstly, collectively and better market place the Fijian Brand and, secondly, ensure that the benefits from the tourism sector are spread further in the economy.
8.Leveraging of international events, better targeting benefits to Fiji.
9.Finally, ensure the Industry is prepared for climate change and global economic shocks.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Moving forward, we expect all stakeholders to provide their valuable input to the draft strategies.
This is not session to point out faults and problems in the current systems and processes.
It is your opportunity to be part of the solution.
A solution that is for the long term. A solution that is not only beneficial to a few, but to all who are part of the industry, whether a big hotel franchise or a small business providing auxiliary services to the industry or a worker in the industry who has a dream to excel.
I, therefore, request everyone to be focused and provide input keeping in mind the overall vision.
As stakeholders you all have a very important role to play in taking this plan forward.
I believe you have had an opportunity to go through the draft strategies and you will have specific questions, comments and suggestions on the strategies.
However, this consultation is not the last opportunity that you will have to provide comments.
After today’s consultation, stakeholders can provide written comments, by March 2, 2017.
Furthermore, we are all available to have one-on-one meetings in that period, if any stakeholder is interested to discuss the strategies further.
Comments and feedback will be incorporated into the Plan and we will have a final validation of the Plan through an industry-wide forum.
We want everyone to take ownership of this Plan – it is our Plan not just a Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Plan and we all should work together to achieve the ambitious goals set therein.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to emphasise that the Plan is a living document, which will be subject to an annual review, apart from the continuing monitoring and evaluation, which will be carried out by the implementing unit of the Ministry.
Before concluding, I wish to announce that the Ministry will be taking the draft to the North to have consultations with the Northern chapter of the tourism industry.
On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, the team will be in Savusavu for consultation.
With those words, I once again, thank you for your attendance today and look forward to constructive and fruitful discussions.
Vinaka vakalevu and thank you