Business

Tourism Happy, Says Hill

The tourism sector has wel­comed the 2021-2022 revised national Budget. Tourism Fiji said it was grateful for the allocation towards their budget, which would allow an im­mediate marketing injection to maintain the strong momentum building.
27 Mar 2022 17:28
Tourism Happy, Says Hill
Machinist, Salanieta Cama, at Mark One Apparel, earlier this month. Photo: Ronald Kumar

The tourism sector has wel­comed the 2021-2022 revised national Budget.

Tourism Fiji said it was grateful for the allocation towards their budget, which would allow an im­mediate marketing injection to maintain the strong momentum building.

“All up, the tourism industry has been heard, with results that prom­ise really meaningful changes,” chief executive officer, Brent Hill said.

“We’re really pleased with any initiatives that help make interna­tional travel simply less expensive, and more attractive.

“The elimination of the three-night minimum stay is significant, as it was very often mistaken for a quarantine regulation.

“The move opens up Fiji to fully vaccinated travelers anywhere, rather than just Travel Partner Countries.

“Non-Travel Partner Countries are especially welcomed.

“It is the optional mask-wearing and full capacity for venues that have had a real tough two-plus years.”

Manufacturing sector

A major operator of the Textile Clothing and Footwear Council In­dustry in Fiji will exit its business operations as a result of the new national minimum wage.

“Others will follow, they will have no choice,” the council said.

This as the council expressed shock at what it described was an unaffordable rate of $4 an hour minimum wage rate.

“I fear for the future of our indus­try,” council president, Mike Towl­er, said.

“We are doomed.

“Four dollars an hour as national minimum wage is a 50 per cent in­crease over $2.68.

“The council will simply lose its customer base to Asia.”

Mr Towler owns and operates Per­formance Flotation Development, a textile factory based in Nabua.

“I personally do not know what my future will be, but I expect it will also end with a shutdown,” he said.

“I understand why the Govern­ment has moved to do this, but it is too much too quickly for us.”

The council’s executive commit­tee will meet next week to decide on how it can survive in Fiji under the new rates.

“We have some six to nine months to navigate our future,” Mr Towler said.

“Our really big issue after the 50 per cent increase in the national minimum wage is how to mitigate it, when we have chronic absentee­ism and very poor productivity in Fiji.

“If the Government gave us the employment tools in the Employ­ment Relations Act to deal with these two problems, we just might be able to find a way to man­age with a $4 national minimum wage.”

The council has suggested a pro­ductivity commission as a good first step.

“While it will only help identify some of the causes, we need the Employment Relations Act tools to deal with it,” Mr Towler said.

Left :Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council president, Mike Towler, says the industry is doomed. Right: Tourism Fiji chief executive officer, Brent Hill, has a reason to smile.

Left :Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council
president, Mike Towler, says the industry
is doomed.
Right: Tourism Fiji chief executive officer, Brent
Hill, has a reason to smile.

 

Mark One Apparel

Mark One Apparel said the budg­et was well-crafted and fit-for-pur­pose under very exceptional cir­cumstances.

Managing director, Mark Halabe, said the 46 per cent increase in the national minimum wage made the the next nine months “an incred­ible challenge” for the industry.

“As exporters, we are price-tak­ers, unlike domestic businesses that can pass-on all increases.

“Our export customers are not bound to Fiji.

“They can and will make alterna­tive supply from other countries as our prices become too expensive.

“Our industry have been now giv­en the most challenging task I have experienced over the last 35 years.

“I am up for the challenge, and I will be very focused on managing it as best as possible.”

The manufacturing sector employs an estimated 8000 people.

The Government has provided a $100,000 marketing grant for the next three years.

The grant would secure market expansion for the council, the Gov­ernment said.

Customs entry fees for the sector will be waivered for commercial consignments below $1500.

Tourism Fiji received an allo­cation of $1.5 million of which $700,000 was expected to be used to bring back workers to five full working week days.

 



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