Eden Urges Industry Input

All stakeholders need to help our tourism industry grow to greater heights, says Assistant Minister for Tourism Lorna Eden. The owner of the Savusavu Hot Springs Hotel firmly believes in
14 Oct 2014 11:49
Eden Urges Industry Input
The old Fiji Airways hanger at the Nausori International Airport, where Helipro’s Agusta AW109 helicopter, registration number DQ EMS. Fiji Airports Limited has detained the helicopter over non-payment of rent to use the hanger. Photo: Ivamere Nataro

All stakeholders need to help our tourism industry grow to greater heights, says Assistant Minister for Tourism Lorna Eden.

The owner of the Savusavu Hot Springs Hotel firmly believes in the growth potential of the industry that brings in $2.85 billion in foreign exchange earnings per year which translates to 37.1 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).   In her maiden speech yesterday in Parliament, she credited Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum for inspiring her to be a ‘doer’ not just a ‘talker’ in public service.

“Coming from the industry myself, I see a number of areas where improvements can be made. However, this cannot be achieved solely by Government. There must be co-operation and equal participation by all stakeholders.The ministry will take a deliberate, inclusive approach to development of policies. That is, we will listen,’’ she said.

The private sector was a key player in the tourism industry that needed to work in partnership with the Government, Mrs Eden said.

She shared her personal history, from being crowned Miss Hibiscus in 1982, to following her family’s footsteps by making a career in civil aviation. In 1996, she and her husband, Tim, decided to invest in the Hot Springs Hotel in Savusavu. This led to other initiatives like pioneering the town’s Rotary Club and tourism association. She was mindful of the special opportunities to serve that Parliament provided her.

“As a Fijian woman, I am also very proud to be part of history – as a member of the first Fijian Parliament with a woman speaker and a House that is made up of 14 per cent women members,’’ she said.

She plans to use her personal experience in the industry to provide new insight into the decision-making process as part of setting goals for their 2020 Plan.

‘’During my time as a hotel proprietor I learned the vital contribution that small businesses make to the Fijian economy, both in terms of injection of capital from tourists and through direct employment, creating and sustaining livelihoods of thousands of Fijian families,’’ she said.

‘In this regard, infrastructure is key. The Ministry is working on a Fijian Tourism Development Plan that will tie in with the Government’s overall infrastructure development plans, a plan that will lead to more investment in and, therefore, revenue from, tourism services,’’ she said.

The ministry has ambitious goals for the next four years;   with better infrastructure, visitor arrivals can be increased to close to one million, according to Mrs Eden.

‘’We also plan on spreading the tourist dollar beyond the shores of Viti Levu to the outer islands including Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu. Our focus will be in improving sea and air access to remote areas. This will help build sustainable growth for the country as a whole,’’ she said.

Expanding international markets was also a priority for Tourism Fiji, she said. She intends to strategise building on traditional markets like Australia and New Zealand and also increase visitor arrivals from Asia, the Middle East, the USA and Central America.

Other areas that will be targeted for development include:

n modernisation of the Nadi and Nausori International Airports

n establishment of Fiji as the top golfing destination in the region with tournaments like Fiji International Golf Tournament

nsuper yacht industry

ncruise ship industry

Ending her comprehensive speech, Mrs Eden revealed that she would also be working to ensure that her ministry aligned itself to the public service reform agenda that had been set in place.




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