SHIPPING

New Bridge Rakes In More Revenue For Vendors

The upgraded and wide walkway of the newly opened Stinson Parade has played a positive effect on local handicraft operators’ revenue whenever a tourist vessel docks at the Suva Port.
24 Jan 2018 11:00
New Bridge Rakes In More Revenue  For Vendors
Apakuki Tabuakuro (second from left) showing one of his handicraft to a tourist on January 19, 2018. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau.

The upgraded and wide walkway of the newly opened Stinson Parade has played a positive effect on local handicraft operators’ revenue whenever a tourist vessel docks at the Suva Port.

Stinson Parade was closed for repairs the past last six years was opened by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last fortnight.

Over those six years vendors contested for the little space allocated opposite the Suva Market to display and sell their handicraft and souvenirs.

“We now have enough space to display our handicraft and the good thing is now tourists walk past us to get into the city,” Suva Liner Association president Apakuki Tabuakuro said.

“The past six years have been a struggle – tourists were going straight into the city and we were closed off with the closure of the bridge,” he said.

“Now, as soon as they (tourists) get off the ship they keep to the side where we are selling and then cross at the pedestrian crossing at the Post Office end to get into the city.

“Before they go to the city they get to view what we are selling at our stalls and this is good for us and also for them as we are selling items at reasonable prices.”

SLA now has a membership of 71 skilled craftsmen and women including micro business owners.

Mr Tabuakoro acknowledged the assistance of the Suva City Council in its provision of small tents along Stinson Parade.

“Most members of this association sell their handicraft for a living, I would like to thank Government and SCC for approving our request to sell our items here,” he said.   Handicraft vendor Taina Nai said she has been making good sales.

Ms Nai sells hula skirts, plaits – a skill she learned from her late mother. She sells the skirts for $20 each.

“We returned here on January 18, 2018 and since then we have been having making good sales compared to the place where we were before,” Ms Nai said.

“I have been selling handicraft since 1965, when I was 20,” she said.

“Today, I am able to make a sale of $200 and this is far, far more than what I used to make when the bridge was closed.”

However, the 73-year-old of Nokonoko in Ra Ms Nai has recognised a change in the buying habits of tourists when it comes to buying souvenirs.

“In the 70s and 80s tourists used to buy items such as traditional necklaces, artificial turtles and other designed pendants,” she said.

“Now they are into buying things like hula skirts.”

Vereti Jikotani 43, of Ogea, Lau said he was excited the association was back at Stinson Parade Bridge.

“I am happy we are back here as I have met and served a lot of tourists and been making good sales,” Mr Jikotani said.

Mr Jikotani has been selling handicraft for more than 15 years. He said before tourists had the time and luxury to browse and visit stalls as the cruise ships stayed over longer in port.

“Most of us vendors here depend on what we make from selling. We earn our living from this. If more tourists visit Suva then that would be of a great help,” he said.

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