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Your Government Has Your Back: PM

The 2019 Awards Presentation was held at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa Denarau, Nadi.
20 Mar 2021 11:00
Your Government Has Your Back: PM
Winners at the awards with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Your Government has your back.

These were the reassuring words of the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while officiating the 23rd Annual ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards (ANZ FETA).

The 2019 Awards Presentation was held at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa Denarau, Nadi.

Mr Bainimarama said: “Your Government has already directly paid out over 118 Million Dollars in unemployment benefits.

“That support has gone mostly to Fijians in the tourism sector, even those who have managed to secure work on the weekends. It will continue.”

Mr Bainimarama highlighted three stories of women who were severely impacted by the pandemic.

Mitimiti Dreunimisimisi 

The first is of Mitimiti Dreunimisimisi, a former resort manager at The Fiji Orchid, who lost her job in the pandemic.

She described last year as “the darkest days of her life”, and found herself struggling with depression –– a battle that, especially in the era of COVID-19, too many can relate to.

She moved to Suva to take care of her mental health and find new opportunity. There, she took her future into her own hands, and started a professional cleaning business, “Maid In Suva”.

Mitimiti now employs three full-time and three part-time employees –– all of whom are former tourism workers.

Funmike Lilo: 

Next is Funmike Lilo, who was once a proud food and beverage outlet manager at the five-star Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay.

As international tourism came to a halt, her job was made redundant, and she found herself looking for work.

Ms Lilo decided to pick herself up by the bootstraps, and –– after picking up some new skills and doing a bit of smart research –– Fiji’s newest all-natural skincare brand, SugarBee Fiji, was born.

You can now find her, and her handmade products, at the ROC Market.

Miriama Ryland 

Finally is Miriama Ryland, a 26-year-old mother who was just three years into her bright tourism career when, during her maternity leave, the pandemic struck. Unfortunately, once her leave was up, there was no job for her to return to.

“But like Mitimiti and Funmike, Miriama looked inward, and knew that her skills and intellect –– paired with her intimate knowledge within the Tourism Industry –– could be put to use elsewhere.

Initiatives: 

He highlighted the Blue Lanes initiatives for yachts to “Vacation in Paradise” VIP Lanes” to the ongoing support of the “Love Our Locals” campaign.

“We have shown the world that we are willing and able to innovate and adapt to support our vital Tourism Industry.

“But we all know we need something bigger, much bigger, to restore Fijian tourism as a driving force for our economy.

“We are pushing our regional neighbours like Australia and New Zealand to open their doors, and their hearts, to a travel bubble with Fiji, especially now that they’ve started vaccinating their citizens.

“With over 330 days since our last community case of COVID-19 in Fiji, there’s simply no excuse that they cannot find a safe way to do so.

“We have made it known, we will continue to make it known, that Fiji belongs in a quarantine-free regional travel arrangement for the Pacific. That remains our best course towards getting your businesses – and the Fijians they employ – back to doing what they do best.”

ANZ regional executive - Pacific Islands Tessa Price, Emerging Tourism Leader Outriggers’ Navneeet Reddy and outgoing ANZ Fiji country head Saud Minan during the 2019 Annual ANZ FETA awards at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa at the Sofitel Fiji Resort on March 19, 2021. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

ANZ regional executive – Pacific Islands Tessa Price, Emerging Tourism Leader Outriggers’ Navneeet Reddy and outgoing ANZ Fiji country head Saud Minan during the 2019 Annual ANZ FETA awards at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa at the Sofitel Fiji Resort on March 19, 2021. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

Taxes and subsidy

He shared that the Government has dramatically dropped taxes and they have a subsidy scheme in place for when the borders do re-open so that they can get bums on plane seats and in hotel rooms as soon as can be done.

“As visitor arrivals go up and your revenues return, we plan on doing more than keeping your tax obligations low.

“In the next budget, we’ll be looking at other innovative ways we can give the businesses that drive this Industry the kick-start they so badly need.

“In Fiji and around the world, I think we can all find relief knowing that help is on the way.

“Seeing our frontline workers get vaccinated earlier this month made that clear.

“We will continue to make safe and effective vaccines available for our people.

“I am registered to be vaccinated, and I will be as soon as our frontliners are all protected.

“As more of our people join the world in defeating this terrible virus, I ask all of you to remind yourself of one thing: People all around the world have spent the past year dreaming of the day when travel resumes.

“Hundreds of thousands –– if not millions –– have dreamt of going to Fiji.

“Of escaping to our COVID-contained paradise. And when they dream, they’re dreaming of you. I know that you can’t wait to greet them.”

He noted that when the dust finally settles, tourists will get back on the planes, families will fill the rooms of our hotels, and this vital engine of our economy will get back up and running.

“COVID can’t take away Fiji’s pristine natural beauty, and it can’t kill the Fijian hospitality –– that Bula spirit –– for which we’re known the world over.

“I’d like to end by paying tribute to my dear friend and a tourism heavyweight — Dixon Seeto — who played such an outsized leadership role in shaping this industry.

“For years, Dixon reminded me — and anyone else who was within earshot — that the Tourism Industry was the single most important driver of the Fijian economy.

“While this is the first Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards without him, that message he carried should still resonate with us all today, but with a different tone: One of resolve, and of determination, to make it through these tough times together.

“Because while we’re down, we certainly aren’t out — and just as this industry has fueled our growth, with your leadership, it can fuel our comeback.”

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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