Let's Go Local | SUNBIZ

Let’s Go Local: Green Tourism

Vanua Levu is known for stunning beaches and waters carpeted with jaw-dropping arrays of coral and sea life. 
23 Mar 2023 05:00
Let’s Go Local: Green Tourism
Koro Sun Resort, home of Dive Savusavu.

In Savusavu, it’s 10 in the morning and the floating bures dotting the crystal waters in front of the picturesque Koro Sun Resort are still locked up.

It might seem quiet, but happily, the tourists are back.

The latest arrivals are resting after travelling over 16,000 kilometers and 30 hours from the United Kingdom to experience unique diving in Fiji’s soft coral capital.

Vanua Levu is known for stunning beaches and waters carpeted with jaw-dropping arrays of coral and sea life.

Tourists travel from all over the world travel to Fiji’s second largest island to snorkel and dive.


Close by, the Maureen and Rodney Simpsons are busy directing their workers to check oxygen tanks, dive equipment and snorkeling gear.

Like most other tourism operators, they have been busy since borders reopened in 2021.

“We noticed during these two years when we were closed, our reefs have really come back to life,” Ms Simpson said.

“We also have turtles, hammerhead sharks and even whales around the dive spots – we respect them, and they respect us.

“This has been the highlight of our diving.”


Before The Pandemic

According to Tourism minister Viliame Gavoka, the only way to usher a new phase of tourism development was through sustainability.

Tourism-reliant economies like Fiji were among the world’s hardest hit by the pandemic.

In a nation of more than 900,000 people, over 200,000 Fijians lost their jobs.

The economic impacts were stark: In 2020, Fiji’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth plummeted to a decline of 17 percent.

Before the pandemic tourism operators Maureen and Rodney Simpson had a thriving business employing 10 people in Savusavu, a resort on Fiji’s second biggest island Vanua Levu.


When international borders closed life immediately became a lot more precarious for them and their workers.

“We had zero income,” Ms Simpson said.

“When tourism re-opened, we renamed ourselves from Dive for Life to Dive Savusavu, basically to advertise Savusavu.

GDP growth is estimated at 15.1 per cent in 2022, and 5.4 per cent in 2023.

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics reported that Fiji’s visitor arrivals for December 2022 surpassed pre-Covid levels with 75,580 visitors landing in Fiji or 102 percent of 2019.

Now, tourists are returning in good numbers, staying longer, and spending more per day compared to 2019 according to early post-COVID findings of the International Visitors’ Survey.


Promise Of A Sustainable Path 

Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association chief executive officer, Fantasha Lockington said the renewed focus on sustainability being driven at national level represented a positive shift as it was previously delivered on smaller scales by individual businesses.

“Fiji’s more resilient reefs – to coral bleaching and its remarkable renewal ability – is recognised globally by marine scientists and ecologists,” she said.

Twice a week, Dive Savusavu hosts a coral and mangrove planting programme for children to impart lessons over the importance of conservation.

It’s just one element of how the business is playing a sustainable role in their local community.

Another is by training hundreds of local youths as divers, helping to drive local employment in an environmentally friendly industry.


Source: IFC

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj

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