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Positive Development In Fiji’s Tourism industry

Positive Development In Fiji’s Tourism industry
Minister for Indsutry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya (right) and assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Vijay Nath outside Parliament on March 12, 2018 Photo: Parliament of Fiji
March 13
11:14 2018

Below is the Ministerial Statement made by the Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Siddiq Koya during the 2018 Parliament session yesterday.

 

I wish to share with the members of this August house the positive developments in Fiji’s tourism industry, the country’s largest foreign exchange earner and a significant contributor to the Fijian economy.
As in any tourism sector, quality accommodation and convenient access are key requirements in facilitating visitor stay and travel needs.

More than 400 licensed hotels cater to our increasing visitor numbers which reached a record 842,884 last year – a 6.4 per cent growth compared to 792,320 in 2016.

Notable increases were recorded from our traditional source markets including Australia, New Zealand and USA as well as our emerging market, India.

For the first time ever, monthly visitor arrivals topped the 90,000 mark in July 2017 with 90,108 arrivals.

Furthermore, visitor numbers from New Zealand and USA were the highest ever in any given year.

The increase in visitor arrivals are the result of the Fijian Government’s direct marketing support, enabling policy framework together with necessary investments in enabling infrastructure.

In this regard, we work very closely with our industry stakeholders to achieve the unprecedented levels of growth in this sector.

Through our marketing strategies, we are reducing seasonality of visitor arrivals and dependence on a few key markets.

One of the strategies, which contributed to the increase in visitor numbers last year was the increase in direct flights to our key destinations and extended code-sharing arrangements.

This was complemented by strategic marketing by Tourism Fiji and key stakeholders.

Noting the critical role air connectivity plays in developing our tourism sector, Fiji’s national airline – Fiji Airways, through its network and fleet expansion plans has increased the availability of seats across our key visitor markets and thus created the potential for attracting greater visitor numbers from these markets.

Expanded code sharing agreements with Jet Airways, Alaskan Airlines and American Airlines, for example, will allow convenient and seamless connectivity with Fiji by maximising returns from existing direct routes and newly-established ones such as through Singapore, San Francisco and Adelaide.

After a nine-year absence in the Northeast Asian market, the commencement of new direct flights to Narita, Japan, in July this year, will further expand our global connectivity.

This will contribute to our efforts of attracting more inbound visitors from new and emerging markets, in the fastest growing region of the world.

The Fijian Government, through its marketing arm, Tourism Fiji, will continue the implementation of its marketing initiatives focused on attracting quality and high yielding visitors.

Tourism Fiji has encapsulated the Fijian Government’s vision, to grow tourism to a $2.2 billion industry by 2021, into its marketing strategies.

These include the following:

  1. Revitalisation of the “Fiji: Where Happiness Finds You” brand with an emphasis on adding value to the brand and positioning Fiji as a premier destination;
  2. Niche marketing – focus on high-yielding markets and reducing seasonality;
  3. Trade partnerships – focused on equipping our travel trade partners with the right information and tools to market Fiji more effectively;
  4. Leveraging the new routes and code share agreements by the national airline; and,
  5. Increasing presence in key and emerging markets such as China, India and Singapore.

The visitor earnings reached a record $1.6 billion for 2016, a 2.7 per cent increase from the previous year.

Over the last 5 years, on average earnings have increased by approximately five per cent.

The upward growth trend in earnings has also been confirmed by the 2017 International Visitor Survey (IVS).

The IVS indicates estimated earnings of $1.97 billion for 2017.

The IVS is a robust qualitative and quantitative survey undertaken by the Ministry. The results from IVS are reliable, as it is collected directly from international visitors.

The IVS is a data collection and research tool used by Governments around the world to develop appropriate tourism and related policies.

And also to equip industry with information to strengthen their marketing and business decisions.

I would like to share some facts and figures from the 2017 IVS that provides insight on the industry’s strengths and opportunities for growth.

The top visitor source markets continue to be a consistent driving force behind the growth of the Fijian tourism industry.

It is encouraging to note that the Fijian people and the Fijian hospitality continue to be the most favourable impressions for our visitors.

Apart from these, the appeal to come to Fiji include our spectacular scenery, our beautiful tropical climate and the relaxing/peaceful atmosphere.

Fiji is still considered as an ideal wedding, honeymoon, spa and family destination with initial visits by couples who then come later with their children.

Although group tours are still popular, there are high numbers of independent travelers who seek an “experience” and these Fiji provides through its wide range of attractions and activities, whether in the highlands or by the beach.

May I at this juncture, acknowledge the efforts of the Spa Academy Fiji in acquiring CIDESCO accreditation, which raises the standard of beauty and spa therapy in Fiji and providing our young people the necessary training to meet international standards of the spa industry and thus a step forward to developing this niche market for Fiji.

Fiji remains a competitive destination and the ubiquitous Fijian smile and hospitality remains a unique strength we capitalise on.

In 2017, over 80 per cent or approximately 670,000 visitors came to Fiji for holiday and visiting friends and relatives.

This directly contributed to higher occupancy rates for hotels, more business for tour operators and service providers, which ensures sustainable livelihoods for Fijians.

Spreading the benefits of the tourist dollar is also a priority of the Fijian Government.

We are in the process of establishing the Wairabetia Economic Zone, which will accommodate a world-class shopping complex that will enhance the tourism experience that Fiji offers.

Other initiatives spearheaded by the Ministry, include those targeted at the grass-root communities.

These initiatives encourage Fijians who want to engage in tourism activities, as well as provide support services to the tourism industry.

The Ministry provides appropriate a sistance to the rural-based communities to achieve their ambitions. These include capacity building training for 54 tourism MSMEs from Nadroga, Namosi, Serua, Wainibuka, Beqa, Savusavu, Taveuni, Navua, Rakiraki, Yasawa, Nadi and Lautoka.

A follow-up workshop will be held in May this year, which will address among other things, disaster risk management preparedness and mitigation measures.

You will agree that having an enabling environment for MSMEs propagates jobs, generates income, stimulates entrepreneurship, eradicates poverty and advances the livelihoods of all Fijians.

There are notable increases in local communities hosting our visitors either through day tours, homestay experiences, voluntourism and cultural engagements.

Many have the opportunity to host our increasing number of students who come to either attend our educational institutions through student exchange programs or through the voluntourism arrangements with development partners and tourism stakeholders.

The Ministry has other targeted initiatives to help develop our communities and small businesses, this include the Micro Small Business Grant where recipients can be assisted for up to $1,000 for their businesses.

There is also the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme for Fijians between 18-

30 years where eligible Fijians can apply for funding of up to $20,000 based on their innovative and unique business ideas.

To ensure policy coherence, it should be noted that all these initiatives are in line with the strategic recommendations emanating from 5-year and 20- year National Development Plan and the Fijian Tourism 2021 – the national tourism development plan for Fiji.

In addition, the launch of the Event Development Fund (EDF) by Tourism Fiji has had a good response so far with a number of activities already being sponsored using this fund. The EDF is targeted at events that bring new visitors to Fiji who otherwise would not have visited and showcase the best of Fiji to other potential visitors via media coverage.

Key developments in the tourism sector, resulting from the vision and foresight of the Fijian Government, have contributed to the unprecedented achievements in record visitor arrivals and earnings over the past 10 years.

These include infrastructure developments such as, the $105 million Nadi International Terminal Upgrade project, the new $7.5 million Denarau bridge, the newly-constructed roads linking up Wailoaloa and Denarau areas, and the $165 million four-lane highway from Nasoso to Nadi.

International Airport and Wailoaloa Junction, which is expected to be completed by April this year.

The sustainable planning and long-term growth policies of the Fijian Government have complemented these Infrastructure developments.

This has led to several international high-level meetings, conventions and sporting events being hosted in Fiji.

Fiji will also be hosting a number of key meetings in the next 18 months, which include the 34 th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in April and the 30 th Joint meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia, the Pacific and South Asia in June and 52 nd Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank, Board of Governors in May 2019.

As we continue to attract international events, our hotels re-invest in their properties to include world-class conference facilities that can host national and international conferences.

However, whilst we try and meet the changing demands of our visitor markets, we are developing our industry in a sustainable manner.

Recent developments include the Fiji Marriott Momi Bay, Kokomo Private Island Resort and Nila Beach Resort.

Upcoming major hotels in the pipeline include international brands such as the Wyndham Silkroad Ark Hotel Fiji in Komave, Sofitel So at Momi Bay, Ramada Suites in Wailoaloa Beach, Pullman Nadi Bay Resort and Spa and Six Senses Fiji Vunabaka Resort.

In terms of major sporting events, we have hosted the PGA Fiji International, Super Rugby, Standup paddleboard, yachting regattas and Oceania sporting events.

A major event Fiji will host in May this year and will potentially be the largest international event Fiji has been able to secure is the Fiji Interhash.

The event is expected to attract 2,000 participants from over 100 countries competing over a period of four to six days.

My recent trip to India earlier this year to attend South Asian Travel and Tourism Exchange (SATTE) was successful, where I had the pleasure to link up with key operators from the tourism industry.

SATTE is the biggest networking forum for the travel and tourism industry in South Asia involving 750 exhibitors from 35 countries and 26 Indian states.

Our promotion at SATTE was targeted at attracting the high yielding niche travelers to Fiji.

In addition to the meetings with industry players in India, I was also able to have bilateral talks with the Indian Minister for Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu and Minister for Tourism, K. J. Alphons.

Furthermore, on the recent visit to Japan I met with the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Kosaburo Nishime and the Parliamentary Vice Minister for Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Katsunori Takahashi.

We discussed opportunities for Fiji to tap into lucrative niche markets in the areas of MICE and medical tourism, as well as the commencement of the direct flights to Japan in July 2018.

On the local front our tourism expos such as the Fiji Tourism Expo (FTE) to be held in April this year, continues to attract record numbers and we have more than 150 international buyers registered so far.

We anticipate another successful Expo this year.

I extend an invitation to the honorable members of this August house to join me at the FTE which will be held at Sheraton, Denarau from the 10 th to 12 th April.

You will have the opportunity to meet our international travel trade partners and local tourism operators all under the same roof.

To allow us to keep pace with international development and remain a competitive destination, Tourism Fiji has built a team of specialist marketers based in Fiji and in our key international markets.

In this day and age expertise in Brand Marketing, Niche Experiences, Social Media, Research and Insights are crucial in positioning Fiji as a premier destination.

We recognise the importance of partnership and collaboration in achieving the Fijian Government’s vision for the tourism sector.

In line with the strategies outlined in Fijian Tourism 2021, Tourism Fiji will also strengthen its coordination with foreign missions, trade commissions and industry partners to ensure a concerted effort in marketing destination Fiji and ensuring maximum returns are achieved.

I wish to thank you for this opportunity to take the floor.

Feedback:  maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

 

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