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Living From Handicraft Sales

Wood carver Apakuki Tabuakuro looks forward to international tourist vessel arrivals at the Kings Wharf in Suva with enthusiasm and expec­tation. “I am always excited whenever a tourist vessel calls
31 Oct 2018 11:00
Living From Handicraft Sales
Wood carver Apakuki Tabuakuro

Wood carver Apakuki Tabuakuro looks forward to international tourist vessel arrivals at the Kings Wharf in Suva with enthusiasm and expec­tation.

“I am always excited whenever a tourist vessel calls into Suva because I get to sell my latest creation and the money I get is bet­ter than what I used to get 10 years ago,” Mr Tabuakuro said.

Mr Tabuakuro, 69, is the president of Fijian Craft and Tourist Guide Association and Suva Cruise Liner Association.

On Saturday he joined his fellow handicraft vendors along Stinson Parade on the arrival cruise liner Pacific Explorer which was car­rying 2163 passengers and 868 crew members on board.

Despite the light rain showers the previous weekend a good fraction of the 2320 tourists on board cruise liner Noordam braved the wet weather to tour and shop in Suva.

“I did not make any money from the morn­ing because of bad weather,” he said about his sales the previous Saturday.

“If it wasn’t raining I would have made $1000, but I made a reasonable amount and that was okay.

Saturday was better as the sun was out throughout the day.

“It is good now, things are more organised – we need to get permits and licenses then we can sell,” he said.

“Unlike before it was hard because people would be meeting tourists in the streets to sell their handicraft and carvings.

“It is much better now and the number of tourists arriving is also big and they are al­ways looking for something to take back home from Fiji.

“Fiji is well known now through sports and other international meetings – business is good for us.”

He said their Fijian smiles and courtesy were their biggest asset when it came to meeting and greeting tourists.

“It is always an advantage to have an idea on how to attract the tourists,” he said.

“For myself when I have to sell my things I joke with them make them happy. But my natural smile and jovial mood are the big­gest attraction.

“They will ask how much is the price of a mask or sword and after selling we give them a small gift from our side to let them know that it’s a small gift from our family to them.

“Because they give you money, in return we make them happy.”

Mr Tabukuro has been selling handicraft for more than 50 years.

He is from Nabukaluka Village in Waidina, Naitasiri, with maternal links to Suvavou Village where he lives.

“I was 10 when I started selling handi­crafts to tourists and now it continues to be my source of income.

“I carve new items and stock them up for the next cruise liner visit.”

All his seven children are married; he has 23 grandchildren.

Expected cruise liners (Kenua Shipping is the local agent) arrivals for November 2018: Nov. 1 Explorer of the Seas (Suva), Nov. 6 Carnival Legend (Denarau), Nov. 9 Voyager (Suva), Nov. 10 Voyager (Lautoka), Nov. 13 Seabourne Sojourn (Dravuni), Nov. 14 Seabourne Sojourn (Lautoka), Nov. 19 Maasdam (Savusavu), Nov. 20 Maasdam (Suva), Nov. 21 Maasdam (Dravuni), Nov. 22 Voyager (Suva), Nov. 23 Voyager (Suva), Nov. 23 Voyager (Lautoka), Nov. 24 Explorer of the Sea (Lautoka), Nov. 25 Sun Princess (Dravuni), Nov. 26 Sun Princess (Suva), Nov. 27 Sun Princess (Savusavu), Nov. 28 Sun Princess (Lautoka).

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