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Tourists Should Experience The Uncommon In Fiji In February

Generally, sports tourism is not time sensitive and the event can be (within reason) moved around to suit the accommodation provider.
23 Feb 2019 20:59
Tourists Should Experience The Uncommon In Fiji In February

It’s low season in the tourism industry-again.

Every year the tourism looks forward to February with some concern because it’s the industry’s low season and business is through the floor.

Every year it’s the same and tour­ism related businesses suffer heav­ily.

It is not only the resorts and hotels that suffer, the pain filters down to the suppliers, the people selling ex­periences and to the staff who are asked to take time off.

Every year there is a lot of talk about the need to come up with some strategies that will help Fiji through the dip.

There have been some very posi­tive things, but they do not carry right through the whole low period.

Chinese New Year charter flights

One of the best and most success­ful products was the annual Chi­nese New Year charter flights out of mainland China that were the product of Rosie Holidays efforts in marketing in China.

This takes advantage of some­thing unique to Fiji, its geographic position on the international date­line.

This makes Fiji the first country in the world to enter each Chinese New Year and this appeals to the China market, where the New Year has great significance.

Unfortunately, it only stretches out over a two-week period and vol­ume is limited by the charter opera­tion that is necessary to link China and Fiji in a direct flight.

Hopefully, in the near future there will be direct flights offered by a Chinese carrier and we can expect some significant numbers.

This time is also a major holiday period for mainland China, and it would be nice to pick up some of that business.

So China has potential to fill the rooms in the low season with very good business once Fiji gets the di­rect fights in place.

All the hard work has been done in China, by Rosie Holidays and other industry players and the source market appears ready.

The main thing we can offer the China market is authenticity, a place where most things are real and part of everyday life.

We can also offer them some quite interesting experiences such as shark feeding and diving, highland day tours, a strong and unique cul­ture while being able to make them feel at home with our large Chinese population and excellent Chinese cuisine.

The things that almost every Chi­nese visitor remarks on is our pure environment, beautiful waters and “air you cannot see”.

To successfully sell Fiji in the low season the industry needs to look at product that is neither time or price sensitive.

This is not easy, but there are sev­eral areas of opportunity that have not yet been tapped by the industry.

There is a big one, and one that the Fiji tourism industry has to seri­ously follow up.

Sports tourism

Sports Tourism is a good segment all around the world.

This is a product where people have a similar interest in a certain sport, or sports, and will combine a trip with a packaged event.

There are a number of packaged products now, the best known being Golden Oldies Rugby, the ever pop­ular lawn bowls, rugby sevens and golf (for which Fiji is well set up).

But there are also hockey teams, cricket, netball and volleyball, swimming, soccer for both men and women and any other sports.

There are travel agents who spe­cialise in sports tourism and they have lots of regular clubs who en­joy a once a year trip to a destina­tion just to indulge in their sport.

They can include Fiji in their of­fering if Fiji has the ability to host a reasonably large event in the particular sport but herein lies the problem.

In most sports, Fiji does not have the facilities that are needed to host an event, things like grounds, sports complexes, swimming pools, running tracks and other set ups’.

At least, we do not have them close to where the hotel and resort accommodation is situated. We also do not have them within an accept­able distance of the International Airport.

These things can be rectified and the Sports Commission is working hard to resolve the many issues as­sociated with providing sporting services close to where the resorts are, in Nadi.

Suva is rapidly building a serious bed number which will solve half the problem because there are mag­nificent world class facilities in the Laucala Bay area.

However, it will be a while (if ever), before the airport capacity is­sue is resolved and even then mov­ing the increased tourist numbers to Suva will not solve the low sea­son issue in the much larger Nadi tourism area.

It seems that better planning co-ordination is needed between all the organisations involved if we are to get a fair share of the regions sports tourism market.

International sporting events

A subset of the sports tourism market is international sporting events held in Fiji.

There has been some success in this area with the International Golf, Super Rugby Matches, Netball and also a number of less notice­able events such as 18 footer sailing World Championships and Laser Championships, Pan Pacific and Pacific Swimming and a number of other events.

These have all proved very suc­cessful and deliver good numbers to the tourism industry, at the same time providing huge benefits to the Fiji economy in terms of foreign exchange and exposure in world media.

One of the interesting side ben­efits of sports tourism is that the numbers of competitors involved in the sport can usually be multiplied by a factor of four because there are always a number of friends or family accompanying the competi­tor, who stay in the resort and enjoy a holiday with occasional trips to the event.

This adds seriously to the num­bers.

Generally, sports tourism is not time sensitive and the event can be (within reason) moved around to suit the accommodation provider.

It is also not a particularly price sensitive market, and these groups are definitely prepared to spend to enjoy themselves.

MICE market

The low season can also reach into the Meetings, Incentives, Confer­ences and Exhibition (MICE) mar­ket.

This tourism segment is about business or organisation meetings, the incentive business area, confer­ences of all types, but dominated by government and international or­ganisations and, to a lesser extent, exhibitions.

Fiji does well in this market seg­ment but needs to concentrate more on selling the low season through the specialist agents.

These segments have been talked about for a long time, what is need­ed now is action. Starts have been made but a serious follow up will go a long way to easing the pain of the low season.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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