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Budget Supports Tourism Growth

Budget Supports Tourism Growth
Artist’s impression of the Denarau Waters planned project near the original Denarau Development at Nadi.
July 15
11:00 2017

The 2017/2018 National Budget addresses a number of issues related to the Tourism industry.

An industry that is critical to the economic well being of the country and is important in many areas, particularly the employment of Fijians, the contribution to foreign exchange and the development of a sound investment segment for Fijian business.

In the last seven years the tourism industry has enjoyed strong and continuous growth, even last year when the disruption related the Tropical Cyclone Winston could have been expected to seriously impact the growth of the industry.

In fact it did for a short time but, like the rest of the country which also suffered under the impact of the largest weather event ever experienced in the South Pacific, tourism recovery was fast and industry determination helped drive tourism to even greater heights.

As the largest industry in the country and the largest employer of Fijians, tourism is critical to the wellbeing and lifestyle of a large segment of the Fiji population.


Howard Politini’s speech

Last year the tourism industry delivered around forty percent of the annual GDP for Fiji.

In his speech in Parliament this week, the Hon Howard Politini said “our government has, after careful analysis of the industry, the current trends and extensive discussions with tourism industry people at all levels, budgeted a total of $58.4 million, an increase of $20.6 million over the previous budgeted amount of $37.8 million.

While this may appear to be a significant increase, the tourism industry has grown so much over the last year that it is easy to justify such an increase”.

Of the total amount of $58.4 million, $33.1 million is specifically allocated to Tourism Fiji, the body tasked with promoting and developing tourist interest in all our international source markets.

This is an increase year on year of $5.5 million.

In the last two or three years there has been a basic structural change in the ownership of the tourism plant in Fiji.

In the past a large number of the major hotels and resort properties were owned and operated by overseas companies.

This meant that often decisions were made by executives not resident in Fiji, decisions that would affect the basic foundation of the tourism industry.

It also meant that a large part of the income earned by creative use of Fiji’s amasing location and environment was sent offshore.


Hotels and Resorts ownership

Over the last twelve to eighteen months there has been a big change in the ownership of the hotels and resorts in Fiji, particularly in the upper end of the market, as Fiji owned companies move strongly into the ownership of these assets.

These companies are now in the position to be able to bring a strong Fiji presence to the Board Room and to view strategic decisions from a Fiji point of view.

They also retain a significant amount of the earned funds in Fiji, where in previous years they were repatriated to the owner’s homeland.

For this reason our government believes that added support is in the national interest because now a significantly higher percentage of the tourism income directly benefits Fijians.

Over the last two years there has been an incredible surge in new construction of tourism plant, some quite large hotels and resorts are planned, bring new famous international brands into the local market and a number of these are ready to commence operation.

These are well known and respected international brands but the actual property remains in the hands of local investors, again increasing the actual return to the Fiji economy, providing even more employment opportunities for Fiji workers.

Because of the large number of additional hotels and resorts in Fiji now there is a clear need to create an increase in the number of international tourists to fill the added room capacity.

Tourism Fiji will be required to be at the forefront of these critical marketing efforts.

The increase in hotel and resort numbers will also allow good growth in the Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Exhibitions area, commonly referred to as the MICE market, which has good potential but has been restrained due to the lack of sufficient venues.


Government support Tourism Industry

The government will continue to support the tourism industry through budget allocations to assist with the necessary task of marketing Fiji in our source markets and through a number of targeted initiatives, such as the facilitation of international sporting events like the Fiji International Golf at Natadola and Rugby matches, including a number of games in Suva.

These events provided huge media coverage, especially television.

This consistency and level of support created an attitude that government action had underpinned the growth and that tourism in Fiji was a secure and exciting business investment.

This is why there has been such a marked growth in the range and quality of the infrastructure, particularly the construction of hotels and resorts and the renovation and expansion of existing properties.

Indeed, only two years ago a new integrated tourism resort, Denarau Waters, was started on the undeveloped half of Denarau Island.

When completed this project will have more than double the tourism infrastructure currently on Denarau and is located in the heart of the Fiji tourism area.


Denarau Waters

Denarau Waters is the largest tourism development in the South Pacific and represents a commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars, providing a good level of employment right now and huge numbers of jobs in the future.

Without the belief in the support of the government in maintaining a strong tourism industry this development and many others like it would not have taken place.

Denarau Waters will have a number of hotels and resorts and already over a hundred and thirty million dollars in land sales have been completed.

There are many other examples of the impact of this investor confidence created by our consistent support for the marketing of Fiji tourism and Fiji is unquestionably the most developed tourism destination in the South Pacific.

There is also no sign of the growth and development slowing down in the foreseeable future.

The government is determined to spread the tourism dollar right around Fiji so that as many people as possible are able to benefit from our leading industry and to assist with the marketing of smaller properties.

The allocations for tourism made in the budget will assist in doing this.


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