Nautilus Tours To Develop Tourist Sites
Tourists come to Fiji because of the “Sun, sun, sand and water” proposition strongly promoted by Tourism Fiji, the vast number of properties who are active in the market and in a number of niche markets and Fiji Airways, the national carrier.
There has been, over the last five years, some attention paid to the MICE market, weddings and diving. But Fiji has more to offer the tourist than simply the weather and the beaches and there is a growing group of companies who are starting to promote other experiences, many culturally based.
There are products for the people who want to do something to help the country (volunteering), who want to learn something that is exclusive and special to Fiji (weaving and pottery) or an adventure (shark feeding, white water rafting).
While this is still really a very small segment, it is where the greatest growth has been in the last few years.
A local Nadi company has been working on developing a different segment in the tourist experience area and has met with significant success.
In the west, only a short distance from the high volume tourist hubs scattered along the coast from just below Sigatoka right around to Rakiraki the land rises sharply to form a beautiful highland range, with dark, deep forests, fast flowing rivers and isolated traditional villages, a basically untouched area where traditional Fijian life goes on, families farm and are involved in the same activities that existed in the early days.
This new company, Nautilus Tours, is based in Martintar in Nadi and has a fleet of twin cab and four wheel drive vehicles that are perfect for the rough conditions in the highland areas.
They have developed a series of road tours into different parts of the interior.
Each tour is designed to take tourists into the varied ecosystems of the mountains so that they can see a variety of different ecosystems, rivers and streams and landforms.
The tourist can select from full-day and half-day products. Starting from scratch, Nautilus identified and trained people to be driver guides for the tours, with significant time in the training program being dedicated to handling vehicles on the rough mountain roads that form the bulk of the driving for each tour.
The tour vehicle is the latest model, fully air conditioned and caters to four or five passengers, depending on the vehicle type.
The vehicles will often travel in convoy, depending on the number of tourists bookings and it is easy to cater for a large group.
Because of the state of the roads and the narrow passes, normal tour buses do not operate in the areas used by Nautilus.
And because of this, the remoteness of the territory is maintained the way it has been for centuries.
The tour itineraries also allow for refreshment and meal breaks and these are handled by a combination of menus, some that are carried in the vehicle and served in the natural surroundings, high on a hill overlooking the ocean or alongside a cold, clear stream, while others utilise the villages on the route where the food is prepared in the traditional Fijian way and served by the village women.
Nautilus has found that the village breaks are particularly popular with tourists because they provide an experience from another, more traditional time.
Some tours leave very early so that they arrive in the mountains just on Dawn.
At this time the mountains are alive with the song of many different varieties of birds, and there is the opportunity to see some of the indeginous species unique to Fiji in their traditional habitats.
Other tours leave later and time their return so that they are at a very high point in the mountains with spreading views out across the sea where some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world can be seen.
Nautilus has been operating since it started by having the tour desk in each hotel handle the selling for them and are very happy with the response.
The tour desks report a high level of satisfaction from the people, who often report back after the trip, and have found that, even when the weather is not bright and sunny, the interest in the trip is still high and the experience just as rewarding.
Feedback on the social media platforms is very positive and sales are starting to come because of this media.
Nautilus has just completed shooting a film on the tours and will shortly upload that onto their web site so that will provide even more coverage for the product.
Even for locals, the tours offer an opportunity to see parts of Fiji that are exciting and interesting and that not many locals know about.
And the well trained Nautilus drivers and their special vehicles can take people to places they would never get to in their own vehicle.
There are many opportunities for tourism experiences outside the basic Fiji offering that are still undeveloped and Nautilus has shown that, with a professional approach, good business can be created.
John Ross is a Nadi-based marketing and advertising specialist with a long background in tourism. For feedback on this article, please email him: email@example.com