SUNBIZ

Expert: Infrastructure Critical In Branding

  An international expert specialising in marketing has stressed infrastructure plays a key role when it comes to nation branding and promoting tourism for a country. Ian Michael, Professor of
09 Feb 2016 12:28
Expert: Infrastructure Critical In Branding
Dr Ian Michael.

 

An international expert specialising in marketing has stressed infrastructure plays a key role when it comes to nation branding and promoting tourism for a country.

Ian Michael, Professor of Marketing at the College of Business at the Zayed University Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has made these comments.

He was speaking to the University of the South Pacific’s MBA students as part of the programme’s Meet the Leaders Forum.

Dr Michael has around 18 years of industrial experience in India and Australia where he held senior positions in the travel & tourism, banking & finance, hospitality, advertising, pharmaceutical, and transportation & logistics sectors.

He spoke on the topic of national branding and the lessons Fiji could draw from UAE.

“One thing nation’s have to do is of course build your brand, work hard on the heritage and showcase your strengths. But also the infrastructure is very important,” Dr Michael said.

Having worked in India, Dr Michael said Goa, which attracts a lot of tourists in India, is let down as a destination because of the infrastructure.

“There are lots of airports being opened up in India, but really the infrastructure lets you down,” he said.

He stressed the importance of infrastructure and this was something which UAE has focussed on and has one of the most popular destinations for tourists.

Improving infrastructure in the country is one things which the Bainimarama Government has been focussing on bodes well for Fiji.

 

Lesson from UAE

Dr Michael stressed one of the things Fiji can learn from UAE was based on their biggest success.

“The nation (UAE) celebrated 40 years of independence. Fiji can learn how a nation which never existed before, in a matter of 40 odd years, has branded itself and all of its major cities and actually compete seriously on the world stage,” he said.

“Whether it is to do with infrastructure, clever marketing, the heritage and the food and traditional part of branding which was actually lost.

“The government took it seriously and said this is our culture, our heritage. People aren’t coming here to see Lebanese type of culture. So they said let’s get into the Emirati culture.

“Fiji can learn how to do things in a very clever fashion and focus on things which matter and use the nation’s strength to do that.”

But Dr Michael stressed Fiji does not need to compare itself with Dubai/UAE. Instead, he advised Fiji should build on its own uniqueness, something which it is already doing.

“You need to ask what is unique about Fiji, Fijian hospitality, greenery, Fijian songs, culture, dances, natural attractions (people are very cautious about natural attraction vs man-made attraction),” he said.

Dr Michael said this can only be achieved when the Government and stakeholders are passionate about using the uniqueness to attract tourists.

He acknowledged the step by Fiji to open an embassy in UAE which can not only attract tourists but also bode well for investment.

Dr Michael believes it wouldn’t be too long before big brands like Jumeirah Group which own the Burj Khalifa Hotel in Dubai, start exploring Fiji as their future investment option.

Feedback:  rachnal@fijisun.com.fj

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