Starting Up A Business In Fiji – A Look At The Iconic Rosie Holidays

From humble beginnings often come great things.  Starting a business is hard work and demands long hours and ongoing dedication. For those entrepreneurs who succeed at it, the return on
02 Jul 2016 08:06
Starting Up A Business In Fiji – A Look At The Iconic Rosie Holidays
Pure Magic International Business Solutions chief executive officer Caryn Walsh.

From humble beginnings often come great things.  Starting a business is hard work and demands long hours and ongoing dedication.

For those entrepreneurs who succeed at it, the return on financial, emotional and life-style investments are well worth it.

Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted.  It takes energy, tenacity and relentless drive to get a business up and running.  It’s not for everyone.

Many try it, find it hard and ultimately walk away from it.  Note I don’t say they fail.  Nobody who tries to start a business fails.  The fact they tried makes them a winner.


Barons of industry

We read about the Captains of Industry like Bill Gates (Microsoft) Nigel Branson (Virgin Airlines) and Gina Rinehart (Hancock Prospecting).

Self-made, dedicated people who had a vision and who refused to take NO for an answer.

In the younger fleet of entrepreneurs, we see Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook and worth US$51.2 billion) and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin (worth US$70 billion together).

It’s not about luck.  For some, they make their own fortunes whilst for others, they have the opportunity to build on fortunes made by others.

Their challenge is to keep the business making money and sustain profitability and success over time.

If we consider these barons of industry, there are various characteristics they share, including a keen sense of creating business opportunities and identifying ‘gaps’ in the market in which they want to operate.

I have included information in this article to help those want-to-be entrepreneurs decide if they have what it takes to start a business or to ensure they know what is required should they choose to proceed.



In this article, we will look at how today’s renowned Rosie Group started off back in 1974 with only a vision.

nCaryn Walsh is an International Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker. Do you have a question about your team or business.  Write to us at  We will gladly answer it.


Started in 1974 by Rosie Gockhai and husband Roy Whitton, Rosie Holidays has become an iconic organisation in the tourism industry, both within Fiji and internationally.

It has claimed various national awards (such as the 2015 Westpac Prime Ministers Exporter of the Year Award), owns various resorts, employs more than 600 people and has offices in seven different countries – Italy, London, Beijing, Mumbai, Los Angeles, New Zealand and Australia.

Like every organisation, Rosie Holidays started off as an idea.  Humble beginnings. Big ideas. Little money to throw at it.  But two passionate entrepreneurs saw a gap in the market and took it.


How it began

After having lost her mum at a tender age, Rosie and her sister were raised by their father, entrepreneur and businessman Tim Gockhai.

He was the first person to manufacture ice-cream in Suva – and it was from he that she inherited her entrepreneurial mindset.

As a young woman, Rose kept hearing about this new amazing thing (tourism) that was developing in Nadi and how it was providing employment and livelihoods for many people.

With her bags packed and optimism in her heart, she made her way to where the thrill was – finding a waitressing role initially and then working for Hunts Pacific – a tour company in Nadi.

In 1964, having met and married the dapper Roy Whitton, a senior Qantas manager, responsible for running the entire Fiji airport operations for the airline, this entrepreneurial couple saw huge opportunities in tourism in Fiji.

They realised nobody was providing holiday transport and packages for people getting off planes in Nadi.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, they saw a gap in the market and decided to offer the service themselves.

They identified that when people got off planes few had an itinerary.  No tours, no sight-seeing, nothing.  Rosie and Roy saw and filled this gap.  It was the genesis of the iconic company.


Big Dreams, Little Cash

Rosie Holiday Tours began with two drivers.  Like many entrepreneurs with cash flow problems, three weeks later they realised they did not have enough cash to pay them.

But the drivers saw the potential in the small start-up business and offered to work for five days but be paid for three.

Roy, Rosie and the two drivers held on.  Resilience is a key factor in being a successful entrepreneur.

They worked hard and never gave up. There were ongoing challenges and mountains to climb.

Employing more people, increasing business, watching cash flow – they experienced all the challenges modern day entrepreneurs do.

Slowly, over time (42 years later) Rosie Holidays has grown to the national icon it is today.

And now, under the wing of son Tony Whitton and his dedicated family of more than 600 people, they are taking the Company to greater heights.

In a recent discussion with Mr Whitton, I asked him what he regards as the most important part of growing a successful business.

He did not hesitate.  His people!  He explains that Rosie Holidays is a family and his people are critically important, not only to the success of the company, but in the lives of each other and customers. And tourism in Fiji at large.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Rosie Holidays continues to be the leading provider of high quality Tourism services in Fiji and the South Pacific.

The company values integrity, team work and a deeply held belief that Tourism improves the social and economic well-being of every Fijian.

For Rosie it was never about the money.  She had a passionate belief that tourism promotes understanding and tolerance of other cultures and provides employment for people that helps builds lives and the country. Tourism is a force for good.

An iconic Organisation that started from a small seed and developed into an international powerful tourism Company.

Can you do the same?  Absolutely. Just follow the advice outlined in this article and take on board what other successful companies, like Rosie, has done.

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