SUNBIZ

Will 2017 Be The Year Of Rapid Tourist Growth?

    It’s the time of the year where everyone looks back on the year past, I’ve always thought this was a bit of fun but not a really productive
07 Jan 2017 11:00
Will 2017 Be The Year Of Rapid Tourist Growth?

 

 

It’s the time of the year where everyone looks back on the year past, I’ve always thought this was a bit of fun but not a really productive pastime in the marketing business.

And of course, the opposite happens.

People look to the next year and try to understand, guess or foretell what will happen… There has been a lot of effort put into the likely important things for tourism in 2017 and specifically for the tourism trends that could be of interest in Fiji.

The last twelve months were somewhat difficult for the industry and a great deal of the marketing here was aimed at putting the business back on track.

The biggest impact was Cyclone Winston.

Not only did it do a lot of damage to the tourism infrastructure but it was seen worldwide by every potential tourist.

And the media presented a picture of severe devastation, problems with housing and feeding a lot of the Fiji population and from many reliable reports, made people consider an alternative destination.

All this has had an impact on our tourism numbers

The Australian market, our biggest source market and provider of half our tourists, has seen a drop back in numbers on the figures for the year before.

The concern here is that these numbers had been showing steady increases for a number of years (admittedly with an occasional dip).

There is a significant amount of uncertainty amongst industry people about the root cause for the stall.

Of course, Winston is a significant factor, but the decline has been so long lasting that there is a degree of concern.

The big success during the year has been the mainland China market and there is confidence that 2017 will be the year that the Chinese come to Fiji in large numbers.

The entry of a Chinese airline seems highly likely and this, combined with the aggressive marketing that has taken place in China for the Fiji destination over the last three years, supports that confidence.

A direct scheduled service will bring with it a huge impetus, but even without that it is generally believed that China will be the big story for 2017.

Another issue that is becoming an important one in the tourism industry is that of personal safety.

During the last year a number of destinations that were previously considered very safe that suddenly have hit the dangerous list.

This has happened to some of the largest tourist destinations in the world.

And unbelievably, includes Paris and Berlin, where recent terrorist attacks against tourist targets have put a question mark about their long standing high security levels.

Tourists are now aware that they need to consider the risks of a destination and particularly so when children are travelling with parents.

Fiji scores high on this measure and is well placed to benefit, although making a big thing about the security issue can be a two edged sword.

Environmental quality has also become a talking point with tourists and destinations that have significant environmental issues also have difficulty attracting visitors.

Although a great experience will always overcome the problem as tourists argue that they are only in the pollution for a short time.

However, for most destinations the availability of a clean high quality environment is a prime point in the decision process.

On this Fiji certainly has an edge over a number of our competitors.

During a recent Chinese group visit facilitated by Rosie Tours, most of the participants commented that the physical environment was outstanding.

One comment summed it all up-“Fiji has air you can’t see”.

A number of other areas that will attract tourists to Fiji have very strong appeal.

Fiji’s rapidly developing shark feeding tours are gaining worldwide recognition as being both unique and an exciting experience.

The most famous is around Beqa, but there are now a number of other choices as well and all have a perfect safety record.

The shark feeding is growing rapidly simply because the demand is there and the beautiful reefs and crystal clear waters of Fiji add to the whole experience.

One area that is predicted to grow worldwide in 2017 is the concept of volunteerism.

This is where tourists mix their vacation with a period of being involved in providing help for less fortunate locals.

This can cover many things from repairing damaged homes, assisting with civil engineering work, teaching both children and adults, providing specialised training, building new homes and schools.

This includes assisting locals to start a business that will be sustainable after the tourists leave.

For many years now, the local ground operators have been providing the opportunity for tourists to volunteer while they are on vacation in Fiji.

A significant number of Meetings and Conventions held in Fiji now have a volunteer component, which is used as a team bonding exercise by the organisers.

The tourist industry believes that 2017 will see a significant increase in the number of resorts and experience products to meet what they see as increased demand, especially from the China market.

The issue here is that experience so far indicates that the Chinese tourist will demand known brand accommodation and product.

And many of the island resorts operated by smaller companies from Fiji will be difficult to sell.

There is also a need for a greatly improved shopping experience but again most tourists want known brands.

Also they want assurance that service will be available in their home country, something that is often an issue in Fiji stores.

The coming year will see the start of medical tourism in Fiji.

At least one international hospital group will establish a hospital here, although a number are rumoured to be in the pipeline.

Many Australian and New Zealand tourists include their annual dental treatments in their visit as the local dentists are excellent and the prices are a bargain when compared to those at home.

There is also a strong move to develop the sports tourism market for Fiji and the possibility that a world standard sports complex will be built in Nadi to make this possible.

The Nadi dining experience is also showing signs of an emerging diversification, with interesting new concepts and new entrants with improved ambience and product.

The dining and entertainment industry is developing rapidly in Martintar and this is becoming the new centre for bars, cafes, clubs and restaurants.

Rosie Tours says that Tu’s Place is the Mecca for tourists All in all, 2017 looks like a very busy year for Fiji tourism.

It may be the start of a prolonged period of sustained growth in the tourism numbers.

nJohn Ross is a Nadi-based marketing and advertising specialist with a long background in tourism. For feedback on this article, please email him: johnrossfiji@gmail.com

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
error: