Tourism Talanoa: Going Digital or Face-To-Face?

Tourism Talanoa: Going Digital or Face-To-Face?

FHTA, 26 November 2020 – Fiji’s appeal to visitors has always been axiomatic.
With our white sandy beaches and pristine waters, it is not hard to imagine why many travellers choose Fiji as a holiday destination.
Our shores have always appealed to most subsections of travellers like families, adventurers, surfers, sailors as well as the corporate segment for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE).
While we hear so much more about the devastating effects of the pandemic on the airline and hospitality segments of the travel industry, not as much information has been shared on the events sector or MICE market although much discussion has been taking place behind the scenes.
Meeting and event planners around the globe have had to adapt rapidly to a world transformed overnight by border closures and the changing rules on crowds, gatherings and the general massing of people in one area for any reason that gives rise to fears of infection and “spreader” events.
Rallies, concerts, conferences, weddings, large funerals, celebrations, and special events around the world have either been cancelled, rescheduled or downsized to minuscule numbers to appease nervous medical authorities trying to reduce the risk of super spreader events. World recognised sporting events like the 2020 Olympics have been postponed. Headline events like the UN Climate Change Summit and Cop 26 have been rescheduled.
The planners for thousands, if not millions of events have been forced to re-evaluate priorities and their event’s importance and focus efforts on innovative alternatives to meet the needs of their businesses and their clients whilst trying to stay safe with social distancing and new health norms.
Here at home, we at Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association have had to cancel our 2020 Fiji Dive Expo as well as our 2020 tourism trade show HOTEC, while Tourism Fiji has very successfully relaunched their key destination marketing event – Fiji Tourism Exchange (FTE) in a landmark, virtual version of its usual 3-day hosted international exchange of tourism product and service update, trading and contract renewal.
Fiji had also had just begun to get its fair share of international conferences and events that brought much-needed revenue to tourism stakeholders, suppliers and tax coffers.
The 52nd ADB Annual Meeting in 2019 gathered 3,582 attendees from 76 countries with over 30 seminars, debates, and other associated events brought together stakeholders to discuss key development issues in Asia and the Pacific.
Fiji is the first and only Pacific Island country to host the ADB meeting and this showcased our ability to host high-level and high-volume events to the world.
But just as our stock in global events was on the rise, the pandemic hit and everything flatlined.
In this ever-changing landscape of global corporate events, the recent successes of virtual events like Tourism Fiji’s FTE are therefore really encouraging.
Many businesses have adopted new technology options that support virtual meetings. This has had to take place not just around the world but here in Fiji as well. We are, after all, part of the global market regardless of what business or industry we are in.
But as these event organisers already recognise, there is a firm belief in the industry that these virtual events will never truly replace live events. And that despite the naysayers who believe that even when the borders reopen, corporate travel will take a dive and we can expect far fewer bookings for meetings, events and conferences, something else is taking place in offices around the world that Fiji has not been immune to. Zoom fatigue!
Cue the business experts and psychologists and TED talks citing the inability to understand accents in the absence of visual clues, miscommunication and difficult topics. Not to mention technical issues, dropped connections and lost interest when people drift off to respond to emails, make coffee or take a call.
Virtual meetings make people feel like they have to make more emotional effort to appear interested, and in the absence of many non-verbal cues, the intense focus on words and sustained eye contact can also be exhausting.
Additionally, virtual platforms do not come close to live events when it comes to situations like sensitive negotiations or business deals, while in-person events allow unexpected opportunities to emerge as attendees interact at banquets, in exhibit halls, and at entertainment venues.
On top of this, in-person events deliver real value for attendees. So, perhaps the relatively new experts in this area, are not so clued in after all.
And with a bit of luck, plus our consistent advertising reminders, Fiji can eventually offer those Zoom fatigued corporate travellers the promise of some far more interactive meeting opportunities that will invigorate, innovate and renew their thinking in far more conducive surroundings.
The far-reaching economic benefit of events, which sources like Oxford Economics note contribute over $1 trillion globally in combined business sales and government taxes, in addition to supporting millions of jobs.
That is a figure that is a compelling figure, especially if even a minuscule percentage of that reaches our shores.
Finally, the growing emphasis on ‘empirical design’ in recent years is further proof that being there is often essential for a full appreciation of an event’s atmosphere and the collective synergy.
Yet, despite this undeniable demand, it is difficult to predict when exactly in-person events might return en-masse. But that does not stop us from working towards getting that segment back.
So much depends on the development of rigorous safety protocols, even if that means increased costs at a time when income models are already facing major challenges.
At home, our Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) has addressed and comprehensively listed the minimum Standard Operating Procedures when convening and running events for our member properties.
This, like all other aspects of the CFC, ensures the paramount safety of staff, attendees as well as the citizens of Fiji.
While the numerous industry virtual gatherings have filled the gap to some extent, event planners and large venue operators know that these alternatives cannot match the primacy and richness of face-to-face experiences.
Since it is difficult to gauge exactly when international live events will make a permanent comeback, industry executives are currently trying to ascertain the best mix of hybrid (in-person and virtual) events on a case by case basis.
At the same time, they are looking for ways to make in-person events safer and virtual events more effective.
Fiji has had many in-person events thus far and this is due to the COVID-contained status that the country enjoys now.
We know many events and properties continue to comply with the reduced capacity, social distancing and ‘no dancing’ regulations, and continue to operate their events within the guidelines set by Government, as difficult as they often appear to be.
It continues take a collective effort to get Fiji back to its perennial position at the top of the pile of top Pacific destinations and we need everybody’s help and compliance to get there.
If we aim for even a tiny percentage of that $1 trillion, that would be a whole heap of SME’s, supplier businesses, tourism stakeholders, employees and communities that could potentially benefit.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 26 November 2020)

Fiji’s EEZ to experience ‘massive coral bleaching’

Fiji’s EEZ to experience ‘massive coral bleaching’

Fiji Times 25 November 2020 – There will be massive coral bleaching in Fiji’s economic exclusive zone until February 2021, says the Fiji Meteorological Service.

“The 12 weeks coral bleaching outlook is at ‘alert level 1’ in a large area of Fiji waters, said Fiji Met in its outlook last week.

“The eight weeks outlook at ‘warning’ in Northern parts of Fiji’s EEZ and at ‘alert’ in rest of the Fiji waters.”

The four weeks coral bleaching outlook is at “alert” in the northern parts of Fiji’s EEZ with “no stress” in the rest of Fiji waters.


Transition arrangements for Tourism Fiji CEO

Transition arrangements for Tourism Fiji CEO

Tourism Fiji 25 November 2020 – Tourism Fiji’s current CEO, Matt Stoeckel, finishes his contract with the organisation on 21 December 2020. A thorough and transparent recruitment process is well underway with the assistance of PwC to source the replacement CEO, which will be based strictly on merit.

“The CEO of Tourism Fiji is a very senior role that will set the direction for how Fiji is promoted within each of its international markets. Working with a highly supportive team and tourism industry, we are looking for a new CEO that can hit the ground running and navigate the organisation through the current disruption caused by COVID19, as well as the recovery once border restrictions ease up. A passion for tourism is essential along with excellent leadership and communication skills and experience, as well as the ability to work effectively and pragmatically with all level of stakeholders”, said Tourism Fiji Chairman, Andre Viljoen.

In the interim Tourism Fiji’s Board of Directors have appointed Robert Thompson (Regional Manager, Australia) to the role of Acting CEO to commence from 22 December 2020 until the CEO position is filled on a permanent basis.

Robert has temporarily relocated to Tourism Fiji’s head office in Nadi, where he is undergoing a thorough transition process with the outgoing CEO ahead of taking on this responsibility. This will ensure a seamless continuation of activities at this critical point in time.

Robert has worked with Tourism Fiji for 12 months, and prior to his appointment had held senior destination marketing roles with Tahiti Tourisme for 18 Years.

Robert will be exclusively dedicated to the position of Acting CEO, and the responsibilities for the management of the Australia Office will be undertaken by Jason Sacriz who will commence in the position of Acting Regional Manager, Australia from 22 December 2020 for the period that Robert is seconded to the head office as Acting CEO.

Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island, Fiji Announces Additional Ownership Partner

Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island, Fiji Announces Additional Ownership Partner

Marriott Fiji Resorts 20 November 2020 – The recently acquired sale and purchase agreement by Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited, a subsidiary of C.P Group New Zealand expand on a strong partnership between Fiji Holdings Limited and P Meghji Trading PTE Ltd.

Marriott International announced Pandey Investments (Fiji) as a major additional shareholder of Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island. The recent acquired purchase and sale agreement by Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited, a subsidiary of C.P Group New Zealand expands on a strong partnership between Fiji Holdings Limited and P Meghji Trading PTE Ltd.
C.P Group, trading under Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited have been involved in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry in Fiji since 2003 however the shared sale of Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island welcomes its first partnership with Fiji Holdings Limited, P Meghji Trading PTE Ltd and Marriott International, expanding its hospitality portfolio across Fiji, New Zealand and the United States of America.

“We are incredibly proud to be entering into this new venture with our partners Fiji Holdings and the P Meghji Group. Our growth in Fiji has been built on strategic asset acquisition underpinned by our partnerships with long-standing business leaders and this new partnership once again reflects this. Working with hotel groups such as Marriott International gives us the confidence to invest into the Fiji Tourism Industry, even during the current times of uncertainty our industry is experiencing,” says Mr Prakash Pandey, CEO – Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited.

Marriott International encompasses a portfolio of more than 7,400 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 134 countries and territories. With Pandey Investments Fiji on-board and becoming the major shareholder for Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island, the newly formed enterprise is the beginning of an exciting era for Marriott International to have three local proprietary companies under ownership especially during such perplexing times. Company Executive Director for P Meghji Trading PTE Ltd., Mr Romit Parshottam Meghji says it is a great sign to have investors continuing to venture into the hotel business.

“We are excited to welcome Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited as one of our owners and are thankful for our ongoing relationship with Fiji Holdings Limited and P Meghji Trading PTE Ltd,” says Neeraj Chadha, Multi-Property Vice President, Fiji & Samoa – Marriott International and General Manager – Sheraton & Westin Resorts, Fiji.

Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island is situated on a 35-acre beachfront property in the southwestern corner of Tokoriki Island, the northernmost island within Fiji’s Mamanuca group. Guests can reach the island via a 12-minute helicopter flight from Nadi or a one-hour boat ride. The resort offers 101 guestrooms and suites, including 30 Tokoriki Retreats with private plunge pools. Additionally, the resort offers 14 Beachfront Rooms, 14 Ocean Breeze Rooms, 18 Ocean View Rooms, seven Family Suites and 18 Island Breeze rooms. All guestrooms have been fully renovated and outfitted with the brand’s Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, high-speed Internet and 40-in. flat-screen televisions.

“The restoration of the tourism sectors remain critical for the group performance as the trickledown effect in other business sectors is largely related to tourism. We are looking forward to working with Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited, as this is a promising development for the sustainability of the group and industry during these challenging times,” says Mr Yogesh Karan, Acting Chairman of Fiji Holdings Limited.

C.P Group, trading under Pandey Investments (Fiji) Limited have stated they will continue to look for opportunities within Fiji and abroad and have plans to continue its path to support the recovery of the Fijian Tourism Industry, working with local partners and those involved within the tourism industry.

COVID-19: AstraZeneca to start rolling out hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine by Christmas

COVID-19: AstraZeneca to start rolling out hundreds of millions of doses of vaccine by Christmas

STUFF SPORTS 24 November 2020 – In another positive finding, the Oxford vaccine needs only to be refrigerated, unlike another candidate developed by drug companies Pfizer, which needs to be kept frozen at -80 degrees Celsius. A different vaccine, made by Moderna, is also kept frozen, but once thawed it can last in a refrigerator for up to 30 days.

Refrigeration will make it easier to transport and store globally, particularly in lower and middle-income countries. The Oxford candidate is also much cheaper.

“We have a vaccine for the world,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, the trial’s lead investigator.

“Our goal at the beginning was to make sure that we can have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere. I think we have actually managed to do that, so it’s a very exciting day today.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment for human health.”


Tourism Talanoa: Next Phase Preparedness

Tourism Talanoa: Next Phase Preparedness

FHTA, 19 November 2020 – This global pandemic was the industry accelerator that none of us saw coming. Over the past year, the travel industry has been faced with adapting to new regulations and expectations at a pace nobody thought possible.

The implementation and accreditation of tourism operators have been swift and all-encompassing. Today, travellers are becoming comfortable with a changing environment; so much so that they expect it.

They will look for environments that are more transparent and digital than ever before and their level of expectation and standard will be higher than before. And more and more survey results confirm that digital solutions that offer practical, efficient and productive solutions that encourage customer interaction while reducing touchpoints are being adopted by many industries and not just tourism.

What do these behaviours and trends mean for the travel and hospitality industry?

It means that it is a sink or swim situation for tourism operators – adapt or be left out. Travel and all its related business configurations have always been that constantly evolving, swift to adapt the industry. Whether economic, geopolitical, medical or weather-related; it simply always found a way to transform itself.

Travel date specialist OAG (Official Aviation Guide) provided their ‘Covid-19 Recovery: Getting Passengers Back on Board’ study on traveller confidence which is based on a global survey of over 4,000 users of its flightview travel app.

It reveals that more than two-thirds of users (69 per cent) intend to fly internationally within the next six months, while more than three quarters (79 per cent) have plans for domestic air travel.

Their other key findings include: the eagerness to travel is more apparent among younger professionals (millennials and Gen Z); nearly one-third have not and do not intend to change their travel habits, and more than three-quarters of those polled (76 per cent) agreed compulsory mask-wearing is the most effective safety measure airlines and airports can implement, followed by improved cleaning procedures.

FHTA continues to collaborate with Tourism Fiji and the Ministries of Tourism and Health to ensure that the enhanced Care Fiji Commitment & COVID-19 Safety Guidelines is detailed, and relevant for the entire Fijian tourism industry and linked supply chains.

The changes to business operations, in anticipation of the opening of international borders, must be implemented nation-wide to help build up consumer confidence and reinforce the marketing of Fiji as a holiday destination that has prepared well with everyone’s safety as a priority.

Along with COVID-19 Safety Guidelines being shared, the processes will require industry-wide confirmed commitment, action plans being put into place, staff training scheduled and day to day business practices re-aligned for compliance. As well as consistent reminders and checks to do the right things always.

Hotels, activity providers, tours and transport suppliers have already integrated many of the new normal practices that is expected to be around for a long time. Training and reinforcement and then more training is planned to take place.

Based on data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the number of tourists from Asia tripled to 468.6 million in 2018 from 152.7 million in 2000, with Southeast Asia and South Asia posting the strongest growth. Asia and the Pacific also became a major destination over the past 2 decades. With travel to the Pacific increasing to every 4th traveller in the world being a visitor to the Pacific, there is no doubt our region will be on traveller watch lists going forward.

In an IATA survey from April 2020, 40% of respondents said they would wait 6 months or more before travelling again. The number increased to more than 50% in the August 2020 report fueled by increasing infections around the world.

That number will definitely change now as the Pfizer vaccine is expected to begin its long trek around the globe after mass production and transportation solutions are sorted. And without a helping hand, the Pacific becomes part of an extremely long list of countries on the waiting list.

While this may take some time to be available for everyone, this vaccine is a step in the right direction as it brings with its 80% positive results announcement, a new sense of hope as travellers start to review their own confidence levels for moving around again post-pandemic.

Tourism dependent countries around the world have begun ratcheting up their reopening plans in earnest.

In the Maldives where tourism accounts for 28% of the GDP, more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts and over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes, they have launched their “Travel Bubble Holiday Packages” with Qatar Airways.

Requiring 72-hour negative COVID-19 PCR test certificates and a rapid PCR test at the departure gate that provides results in 15 minutes, travellers get to book their holiday at specific isolated island-based resorts without the need to quarantine on arrival or their return home.

In Australia, the New South Wales government has confirmed its investment of USD146 million to drive tourism and visitor spending in its 2020/2021 budget.

While New Zealand has sent a reconnaissance team to the Cook Islands in preparation for opening what may be the first Pasifika travel bubble.

At home, and just yesterday, Fijian tourism operators heard about Fiji’s destination marketing plans for Australia and New Zealand markets explained by a positive and enthusiastic Tourism Fiji team on how ready everyone will be, how Fiji will be promoted there and what the key messaging will be when our borders open. Innovative holiday packages with accommodation providers, activities and tours have been prepared with the national airline but cannot be launched along with the airline’s flight schedules until some insight has been provided for when the borders will be expected to open. Potential visitors need to plan their travel and meet any COVID safe requirements before confirming their bookings so they can organise their leave.

No country launches their flight schedules or holiday specials and packages for visitors to book their holidays whilst the borders are still closed in both the country of origin and the country one wishes to holiday in. Not unless some information has been provided for future opening dates on either side.

Even the bookings that are still in “credit” because people were unable to take booked holidays when the borders shut, continue to be held until dates can be firmed up.

All that is left now is for this clear communication on what our plans actually are for how and when Fiji will consider opening up again. This is not the decision made from the national tourism office, although they will be Fiji’s biggest communication platform for this once it is known.

Will it be a strategy outlining a phased opening? Or along the lines of the UNWTO’s recommended: “Priorities for Tourism Recovery” that advocates to recover confidence through safety and security; a stage we believe we are at.

The next stages recommend “public-private collaboration for an efficient reopening” that makes absolute sense, then to “open borders with responsibility”- again we would totally agree and finally to “harmonise and coordinate protocols & procedures”.
The industry is ready and just awaiting that communication now.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 19 November 2020)

Tourism Talanoa: Are We There Yet?

Tourism Talanoa: Are We There Yet?

FHTA, 12 November 2020 – We consider ourselves extremely fortunate, lucky even and many say blessed, that Fiji never had a full first wave of COVID infections and our small case figures are negligible compared to other countries.

With 34 total confirmed cases, of which only 1 is currently active as a border quarantine case; 18 were community cases, and a total of 16 were border quarantine cases; Fiji might indeed be considered as being lucky compared to the tidal wave of infections occurring around the world, with some regions experiencing lethal second and even third waves.

The toll on countries that have experienced large volumes of COVID cases resulting in the hospitalization and eventual death of thousands of its citizens has been followed with both sympathy and dread by people around the world, many of whom have not had to live through those scenarios themselves. That the toll appears to have had social, political, economic and psychological impacts in varying degrees depending on the country is now more unanimously recognised. Only the recent fascinated distraction of the US elections has been able to tear our focus away from watching how the pandemic appears to have continued unabated, especially in the northern hemispheres.

We hold our collective breath when we hear of new cases with our closest neighbours and breathe quiet sighs of relief as we note milestones achieved with no new cases and as state and country borders eventually open up as well.

So it is starting to feel like a really long and drawn out road trip for everyone where we have been ever watchful while learning to understand our new surroundings, adopting the new practices expected of us and preparing to be safe and stay safe. And inevitably, we are now at that “are we there yet?” point.

Is Fiji considered “COVID Contained” yet? And if not, what more do we need to do to get there? Does Fiji consider any other country as being in this category (different to a country considering themselves as being in this category) or accepts that some are in the “COVID Free” category and can therefore be acceptable to an exchange of visitors?

Do we need a list of countries that is updated over time that notes who is in a “High Risk”, “Medium Risk” or “Low Risk” category and based on this determine what our specific expectations are for visitors from these countries to adhere to if they visit Fiji?

What is currently unclear at this particular point in time, is what the trigger points are to have borders opened up. Whether these are a combined monitoring and evaluation process of the levels of preparedness of the tourism industry, Fiji as a whole or a combination of these with the recognition of how and who we open up to eventually. Certainly, no one expects the solution to be simple, but rather the expectation is that we would have a host of triggers, each requiring specific check-offs before we move to the next step in a comprehensive but clear process.

Additionally, given that the virus is still being studied and the first officially recognised vaccine available shows a preliminary analysis of a 90% effectiveness as testing progresses, we may still be some way away from a world-wide reopening of international travel. At least until the Pacific region can access its own supply of vaccines, this too might also become another criteria for our “Steps to opening up safely” strategies.

Tourism businesses and their supplier networks have been working diligently on their safety plans, committing to the CareFiji program, adopting the training and practices noted in the COVID-19 Safety Guidelines and looking into what they must do to be considered safe. If they have not already done so, they are actively making plans to do so.

We have gone more than 200 days without community transmission and that is a fantastic effort on the country’s part by any standard and has been recognised in Fiji by the international community, applauded by diplomats as well as by our neighbours. However, we are also ever mindful that opening up too early could be disastrous as well.

Our regional neighbours to the west, French Polynesia, reopened its borders on July 15. Fast forward to today and the French territory has experienced a staggering 9,995 confirmed cases with 39 fatalities.

As recently as November 3, they experienced their highest infection spike with 1,384 confirmed on that day alone. For a small Pacific island country, these statistics are devastating and scary, so we can understand the implementation of daily curfews on the main islands to attempt to curtail the infection rates more rapidly.

There is deep empathy for our island neighbours in the region because we understand the importance of keeping communities safe and the safety of our own people and our communities has always been and remains our highest priority.

It is why we are all fully supporting the Care Fiji Commitment that Tourism Fiji is implementing which will ensure that all tourism operators are well versed on the recommended minimum standards for the new travel normal, with the roadshow to get this commitment in place throughout Fiji started in earnest this week.

As businesses and organisations implement their preparedness, train their staff and amend their practices to be COVID complaint, they are doing so in expectation of Fiji’s border opening strategies being articulated soon. What we are working towards and how we get there together and how each of the expected processes has to be met before we progress to a point where we are confident that we can open up again.

The Cook Islands removing the 14-day supervised quarantine on arrival has also been noted with growing interest. As an associated state of New Zealand, it is only logical that they would lift the requirement as a reflection of the “improving” Covid-19 situation in Aotearoa.

Relevant authorities are in talks to finalise a quarantine-free travel arrangement between the two countries and we have no doubt that the fact that the Cook Islands never had a confirmed case, reinforced this decision as part of a series of check-offs that confirmed that both countries were headed to this point.

The removal of pre and post quarantine requirements as part of border opening strategies provide critical country safety reinforcement from a destination marketing perspective. And while no-one is condoning the move to this point immediately for Fiji, it needs to be a marker in the list of considerations for how we progress our efforts going forward. To be part of the larger re-opening plans and a point we are collectively moving to.

Our key markets of New Zealand and Australia are critically important to Fiji as well as the other Pacific Island Countries that rely on tourism, but we continue to keep an eye on the situation in North America, Asia and Europe as well, from where our niche markets like dive, ecotourism and adventure visitors travel longer distances from.

As we enter the second last month of this year, tourism operators will be putting forward several 2021 budgeting scenarios to prepare for an early opening, a mid-year opening or a late opening.

Decisions have to be made on whether to change marketing plans, launch new initiatives or refocus on markets that look more likely to open up, and many of these decisions hinge on how far we are along on the long road to opening up and at exactly what point you spend your dwindling cash reserves on marketing.

We know we are not there yet. But it is crucial for our planning activities and cash flows to know how far away we really are.
Tourism in the post COVID world is like heading out on a new road trip.

Like any new road trip, we need a map or at the very least a good idea of how we are going to get to our destination.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 12 November 2020)

Nadi International Airport gets ACI Accreditation

Nadi International Airport gets ACI Accreditation

Airports Council International 7 November 2020 – Nadi International Airport, operated by Airports Fiji Limited (AFL), became the 100th airport qualifying for the #ACI #AirportHealthAccreditation (#AHA). It recognizes professional excellence in maintaining safe, hygienic facilities and reassures the travelling public using the airport’s facilities.

“We congratulate Fiji’s Nadi International Airport for being the 100th airport to be accredited through ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation programme. This demonstrates that they are focused on the health and welfare of travellers, staff, and the public. Public confidence in air travel will be crucial as our industry prepares to sustain continuing operations, and Nadi is leading the way by providing to passengers and employees high globally-recognized standards on health and hygiene,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General, Airports Council International – ACI World.


Report highlights huge potential in Vanua Levu for tourism

Paradise Taveuni

Fijivillage 7 November 2020 – Vanua Levu could become a significant part of the nation’s tourism recovery efforts through targeted investments to attract high-value markets, potentially increasing national tourism earnings by $339 million in 2020, above government forecast estimates.

International Finance Corporation or IFC, with the support of the governments of Australia and New Zealand, has completed a study, Vanua Levu Tourism Market Demand Assessment, which provides critical information for the World Bank Group and the Fijian Government, to design a project that will support the island’s future growth and recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

The move follows work undertaken last year by the World Bank and the Fijian Government to explore opportunities to develop tourism in Vanua Levu through the Bank’s International Development Association lending program.


Repatriation flight for Australia and Fiji Citizens – November 2020

Repatriation flight for Australia and Fiji Citizens – November 2020

Fiji Airways will operate repatriation flights between Nadi and Brisbane, and from Nadi to Sydney in November 2020, allowing Fijian and Australian citizens as well as approved non-citizens to travel to their respective destinations.

The flights will operate as follows:

DateFlight NumberFromToDeparture TimeArrival Time
11 NovemberFJ 1911Nadi (NAN)Sydney (SYD)9.00am (FJT)12.40pm (AEDT)
12 NovemberFJ 1921Nadi (NAN)Brisbane (BNE)10.30am (FJT)12.35pm (AEST)
18 NovemberFJ 1911Nadi (NAN)Sydney (SYD)9.00am (FJT)12.40pm (AEDT)
22 NovemberFJ 1921Nadi (NAN)Brisbane (BNE)8.30am (FJT)10.35am (AEST)
22 NovemberFJ 1920Brisbane (BNE)Nadi (NAN)12.05pm (AEST)5.45pm (FJT)

Guests can book tickets for the flight online at or by calling the airline’s Reservations Centre. Guests holding unused Fiji Airways’ tickets for flights between Nadi-Sydney and Nadi-Brisbane are also able to book themselves on this flight by contacting Fiji Airways Reservations. Please note that limited seats are available on all repatriation flights, per Government directives.

Fiji Airways’ international flights operate under the airline’s Travel Ready programme, which is designed for air travel in a COVID-19 world. Travel Ready has numerous precautions and medical safeguards in place to protect customers and staff alike. Please familiarise yourself with our Travel Ready Programme here, and find out all the changes you can expect when flying with Fiji Airways. These actions are in place for your safety and wellbeing.

Travel Ready requires customers to bring their own facemasks with them when they come to the airport, practice physical distancing in queues and public seating areas, and undergo regular temperature-screening (along with other COVID-symptoms’ screening). Please ensure you are ready for your flight,to avoid inconvenience at the airport.

Australia and Fiji have strict entry and quarantine requirements in place for all travellers. Guests are requested to ensure they understand and comply with these.

Additional details are available on Fiji Airways’ Travel Alerts page.

Tourism Fiji CEO details new program to make Aussie travellers feel safe and confident

Tourism Fiji CEO details new program to make Aussie travellers feel safe and confident

Travel DAZE 4 November 2020 – There is no doubt Fiji will be a popular holiday choice for Aussies once they are allowed to travel there again, and the destination has developed a comprehensive program in anticipation.

Speaking at Travel DAZE 2020 yesterday, Tourism Fiji CEO Matt Stoeckel said the organisation was launching the Care Fiji Commitment to trade partners this week.

“It’s a program has been developed in partnership and collaboration [with] government, industry and ourselves,” he told attendees

“It will be implemented ubiquitously across the country, across all tourism businesses, so we can really have a great alignment with all our policies and procedures and practices with some really great COVID-safe guidelines that the government have issued in Fiji.

“The advantage of that, of course, is that through the Care Fiji Commitment, we can then reassure Australians looking to travel to Fiji as their next destination, that they can do so safely and be reassured that we’ve got policies and practices in place in the destination to keep them safe.”


Tourism Talanoa: Timing Our Comeback

Tourism Talanoa: Timing Our Comeback

FHTA, 4 November 2020 – Tourism is not just as one of the world’s largest economic sectors, it is one of the world’s highest revenue earners. But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to a screeching halt.

Many pacific island country’s economies are underpinned by combinations of tourism, trade and remittances. With relatively small private sectors and limited production and export bases, island economies are also further challenged by their geographical remoteness from major markets and their susceptibility to the economic impacts of natural disasters. Some are still recovering from recent cyclones (Fiji and Vanuatu, Tonga).

Based on 2017 and 2018 UNWTO data, the top three countries in terms of tourism dependence are Maldives at 57.8% of GDP, Palau (42.2%), and Vanuatu (37.1%).

Due to very early intervention and effective management, there are currently only three Pacific Island Countries (Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea) that have been directly affected by COVID-19. And while the Pacific has been commended for pulling off a “coronavirus miracle”, it has come at a price.

All Pacific Island Countries (PIC’s) have incurred significant social and economic costs with GDP expected to fall by at least 10% within the Pacific and as much as 22% in Fiji.

It is also well known that tourism is a fundamental source of revenue and employment in Fiji (~40% of GDP), Samoa (23% of GDP) and Vanuatu (~40% of GDP) and a key source of revenue in most other PICs notably Kiribati, Tonga and Solomon Islands. The changing trends of tourism are reflected in data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which show that the number of tourists from Asia tripled to 468.6 million in 2018 from 152.7 million in 2000, with Southeast Asia and South Asia posting the strongest growth.

Asia and the Pacific have also become major destinations over the past 2 decades. Even now, with the effects of the closed borders, grounded airlines and city lockdowns, the hunger for travel does not seem to have abated.

And interest in Fiji specifically in the last few months has increased steadily with the continuation of lockdowns as well as the increasing infection rates across Europe, Australia and the US.

It appears that even with soaring coronavirus rates, people around the world are still travelling, albeit more domestically and because of fears of the new trend of “travel shaming”, with far fewer postings about their travels on social media sites.

But there is a growing belief that a comeback for international tourism is expected to be positive.

In Fiji, domestic tourism has created an appreciation for what Fiji has to offer to international visitors at reduced rates for a captive market that may otherwise have gone overseas for their usual scheduled travel, as well as creating opportunities for those less adventurous locals to try more than just that one, short holiday trip.

Feedback from our more adventurous, self-confessed “foodies” indicate that their choice of great eating spots around Fiji has really opened up to include restaurants and resorts that offer creative cuisines as part of their holiday product and packaging. More importantly, it confirms that Fiji really does have the creative flair and skills to showcase our culinary diversity. Many miss out therefore when our local travellers choose not to utilise the restaurants and bars that open especially for them.

However, none of this detracts from the significant job losses that have continued to be felt even though many workers have been allowed to return to work on reduced hours. The economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be worse for already vulnerable groups including youth, women, persons living with disabilities and those who are engaged in the informal economy. Most works in PICs tend to be informal, and it is widely accepted that informal sector employment tends to be more prevalent among youth and women.

In Fiji, there is a high reliance on informal employment which enhances vulnerabilities as informal workers are more likely to lose their jobs and unlikely to have paid time off or have access to social safety nets. While the Pacific generally is fortunate to have strong traditional social safety nets, these are not sustainable in the long term and can put pressure on larger households where more people have lost their jobs.

ADB’s recently released Policy Brief on “Strategies to Restart the Tourism Sector during the COVID-19 Pandemic” is a timely and interesting read that recommend ls three key focus areas. The first discusses the promotion of domestic tourism that while being embraced by many Fijians, is a limited market to cater to that is further restricted by only 44% of local tourism businesses who are able to open up.

Notwithstanding the acceptance that foreign visitor spending is always expected to be higher than domestic tourism spending, understanding the nuances and trends of domestic markets in any country requires time and study for tourism operators to effectively tweak products and services that were designed specifically for international markets and their demands.

The second strategy discusses establishing bilateral travel bubbles that even with just one country, has the potential to reduce Fiji’s tourism deficit by half.

And while everyone believes this as the key to kickstarting our economy from zero to hero proportions, the brief correctly points out the many facets to the challenges this seemingly simple solution comes with.

This includes the countries involved needing to be way past their peak of infection levels, the expected levels of preparedness to handle potential outbreaks, as well as containment measures, quarantine restrictions and testing requirements.

Added to all of this might be the local population’s fear of infection from visitors that may be far too easily tempered with Fiji’s natural welcoming culture.

The third scenario discusses subregional travel bubbles that are created between PIC’s and key markets like Australia and New Zealand.

Similar to the first scenario, movement may need to be limited to areas where visitor accommodation is located and more importantly, the requirement for those visitors to have to do a mandatory quarantine stay on their arrival back in their home countries.

Limiting visitor movement and quarantine requirements are not expected to get potential visitor interest.

So while there are some opportunities and a few more options that are being thought through for tourism-dependent countries like Fiji to consider; none are simple or quickly applicable without dealing with the many moving parts that require massive collaboration, training and commitment from all the stakeholders.

Lastly, the right timing for any of the options to work is ultimately the most critical element. And time is moving on.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 4 November 2020)

State can call environment officers as witnesses and also use their reports in Freesoul’s trial

State can call environment officers as witnesses and also use their reports in Freesoul’s trial

Fijivillage 5 November 2020 – Suva Magistrate, Seini Puamau has denied the application of defence to exclude the Ministry of Environment’s report in the trial of Freesoul Real Estate Development (Fiji) PTE Ltd.

While delivering her ruling through Skype from Lautoka, Magistrate Puamau says the State is allowed to call environment officers as witnesses and also use their reports.

The trial will begin on 18 November.


Fiji Airways Hands Over $17,000 in Proceeds from FJ 50 Special Flight

Fiji Airways Hands Over $17,000 in Proceeds from FJ 50 Special Flight

Fiji Airways today handed a cheque for just over $17,000 to the Fiji Cancer Society. The donation was from the proceeds of the FJ 50 Special Flight operated by the airline on 10th October.

Fiji Cancer Society CEO Belinda Chan received the cheque from Fiji Airways’ Executive General Manager Corporate Affairs Shaenaz Voss, during the airline’s annual Pinktober Morning Tea. Ms. Chan thanked the airline and passengers from the FJ 50 Special Flight for this donation, which will assist the FCS help Fijians fighting cancer.

Further funds have also been raised by the airline’s staff for the Fiji Cancer Society, as well as for a colleague who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Tourism Talanoa: Where Are Our Tourism Workers?

Tourism Talanoa: Where Are Our Tourism Workers?

FHTA, 29 October 2020 – Nadi and the surrounding tourism hot spots are still reeling from the effects of the border closures.

With the subsequent drop-in visitors and the tourism industry being brought to a standstill, the once-proud tourist Jet Set town is still very much on its knees.

With every part of the town connected in some way to the tourism sector, the effects on the ground are staggering.

We took a walk around the quiet environs of Nadi to talk to people about how they were coping, and what they were doing in terms of finding alternative employment and income options so that we could see it from the people who make tourism the industry it usually is.

Vijay (not his real name) for example, is used to the hustle and bustle of cabin crew life.

Every few days, a different stopover location was guaranteed as he navigated life as a member of the coveted Fiji Airways flight attendant’s family.

He spent more than 13 years in the air, working his way up from the bottom.

He has been self-employed since 25 May and has refocused his efforts on how he earns an income.

He manages this by making delicious food from home and then setting up at Nadi’s now-famous VotCity market, that has sprung up at the entrance to the sprawling suburb of Votualevu, just outside Nadi town and a stone’s throw from the international airport, where many of the aircraft he once flew in, sit quietly parked.

While he looks forward to the weekend rush, he knows not to be complacent with just those sales and has made a conscious effort to sell his wares every day of the week.

His normal day starts at 4 am as he and his wife prep and cook the food so that he is at the market location by 7 am to book a prime table position.

The bond between the vendors at VotCity is evident as they laugh and joke with each other, but this does not soften the undercurrent of uncertainty that permeates the whole of Nadi.

Vijay is obviously unhappy with how things got to where they are right now, and he desperately wants and needs his job back. He also worries about using his FNPF, knowing that his current reliance on it means his retirement funds get slowly eroded at the same time.

Fellow vendor and former cabin crew colleague Wati (not her real name either) shares Vijay’s sentiments.

She was in the final year of her Diploma program at the then Fiji Institute of Technology when she became a flight attendant 20 years ago and never got around to completing her initial study plan.

She makes the best with what she can manage at the VotCity markets and being a single mother to 6 children feeds the strong will to keep going.

But she is glad for the 20 plus years she has spent in the skies as it has taught her many things and opened her eyes to many experiences.

“My people skills come in handy when customers come to VotCity looking for something to eat and I engage with them to hopefully get them to buy my goods,” she says.

For a few months after the last commercial flight left in late March, Nadi seemed unaffected from the outside.

But the pressure on businesses and organisations to manage staff and maintain operating costs without the usual income from international visitors became too much, and a wave of terminations and redundancies ensued that affected the many workers that made Fiji the tourism hotspot it had become.

Like Vijay, Wati’s day starts at around 4 am as she readies her goods for the day. She rushes in early to the market to avoid the traffic and to book a good spot. Everyone knows location is important in marketing one’s products.

“Most of my former colleagues have turned to gardening and some are working again after applying to other workplaces. They stop by every once in a while, to say hi or to buy some food, so we’re grateful for that support,” she says.

Marika is selling dalo and cassava he helped dig up from his brother’s farm in Sabeto, by the side of the large Votualevu roundabout. He was a diver with one of the small resorts in the Mamanuca Islands, while his wife worked at the resort as a housemaid and nanny for the Kid’s Club.

The resort is closed and all but a small handful of staff were laid off. There are no scheduled ferry services to the island anymore as the large vessels require a higher demand to offset its high operational costs.

With no international visitors and lower domestic tourism demand, scheduled services to the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands ceased. Very few resorts remain open and if open, are operating at reduced capacity with their own smaller transfer vessels.

Marika tried getting dive work with the few that were open, but there was no local tourism demand for diving or most other activities for that matter, so he joined many of the activity and resort staff in going back to family and farming to get by till things got better.

When asked how long he thought he could continue this way, he said: “We have food and earn a little money to buy what we need, but I will not be able to afford my children’s boarding school fees next year if this continues.” He adds after a moment’s thought, “But I know I am luckier than others”.

At a coffee shop, an airline engineer, and his friend a former check-in agent responds to the “where to now?” question with shrugs. They are waiting to turn 55 next year so they can access their full retirement funds to progress their now brought forward retirement plans to start their own business.

Nadi is a town where tourism touches everyone in some way, form or fashion. Up and down the coast from Sigatoka to Rakiraki, and all the way around the Sun Coast to the eastern coasts and islands off there, the stories are similar.

Whether you were a chef or porter, or an air-conditioning engineer or sales & marketing staff; the lack of employment support (or employment opportunities) is heartbreaking when you have been laid off like thousands of others.

The many “To-Let” and “For Rent” signs and shuttered up buildings around the residential and commercial areas reinforces the quiet desperation that has seeped into the once lively Jet Set Town that stayed open late and led Fiji into the 7-day shopping hours that has become normal all over Fiji now.

No doubt the entire world is going through similar situations in varying degrees, but it hurts more when it is this close to home. And right now, nearly everyone in Fiji knows someone who has either lost a job, is on reduced hours or on leave without pay.
Our tourism workers have not gone anywhere. They are trying to get by. And waiting.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 29 October 2020)

Fiji Airports says Nadi terminal cleaned and disinfected after every flight

Fiji Airports says Nadi terminal cleaned and disinfected after every flight

Fiji Times 27 October 2020 – Nadi International Airport is cleaned and disinfected after every flight, states an advisory released by Fiji Airports Limited (FAL).

“All high contact surfaces are thoroughly sanitised to ensure your airport journey is a safe one,” states the advisory.

FAL states all passengers will be screened at Nadi International Airport.

“Temperature screening will be carried out in our departures and arrivals screening areas. Passengers will not be allowed to fly if their temperature is above 37.4 degrees.”

FNPF COVID-19 Withdrawal Scheme

The Fiji National Provident Fund is aware of social responsibilities and in partnership with the Fijian Government, has put implemented relief packages to assist its members and employers during this time or hardship.

Source: Fiji National Provident Fund

COVID-19 Withdrawal Scheme for members

The following are the current phases of withdrawal scheme (latest to oldest):

Employers Relief Assistance

The following COVID-19 relief measures have been activated by the Fiji National Provident Fund to assist Employers during these challenging times.

These measures are effective from 1 January 2020 to 30 June 2021.

Link: Employer’s Relief Assistance Requirements

Phase 4 (Government Top Up NOT Applicable)

Members who are unemployed from 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2019 can apply for Phase 4 from 31 August 2020.

The member must have a minimum General Account balance of $135 and must be between 18 to 54 years old. Members must apply on myFNPF app.

The maximum amount allowed for withdrawal is between $100 to $1,100 depending on your General Account balance. Application processing will take up to 5 working days from the date of submission.

Link: Phase 4 Requirements & Forms

Phase 3 (Government Top Up is applicable)

Members who are on reduced hours and reduced wage rate can apply for Phase 3 withdrawal through their employer from 10 August 2020. 

Members who have insufficient General Account balance will receive Government Top Up.

Reduced Hours – applies to members who are on reduced working hours/day per week due to the economic impact of COVID-19. You will receive $22 for every day you are not working up to 4 days per week. Fortnightly payments starting from 25 August until 20 October 2020.

Reduced Wage Rate –  applies to members who are on reduced wage/salary rates per hour due to the economic impact of COVID-19. You will receive $550 or $1,100 depending on the reduction of your wage rate (Lump sum payment) on the specified payment dates as per the payment schedule.

Link: Phase 3 Round 1 Requirements & Forms

Phase 3 Round 2

FNPF members who are on reduced hours and reduced wage rate can apply for Phase 3 Round 2 from 21 October 2020.

Government top is applicable in Phase 3 for members who have insufficient General Account balance.

Link: Phase 3 Round 2 Requirements & Forms

Phase 2 is in three categories.

  • Category 1 (Government Top Up is applicable) –  members who withdrew in the first phase of COVID-19 Withdrawal & have exhausted their FNPF General Account (GA) balance will receive $220 from the Government as first installment by 29 May 2020. This does not include those that applied under SME and Taxi drivers in Phase 1.
  • Category 2 (Government Top Up is applicable) – members who withdrew in the first phase of COVID-19 Withdrawal and are now/still unemployed, can apply for $1,100 from your General Account. Payment in five instalments of $220 per fortnight. This is effective from 9 June 2020. 
  • Category 3 (Government Top Up is applicable) – members who did not apply for the first COVID-19 Withdrawal and have become unemployed, can apply for lump sum of $1,100 from your General Account. This is effective from 9 June 2020. 

Note: Phase 2 withdrawal closed on 14 August 2020.

Phase 2 Round 2 (Government Top Up is applicable)  

Members can apply for Phase 2 Round 2 from 24 August 2020 if they:

  • • withdrew in Phase 2 (Round 1) and are still unemployed or on leave without pay.
  • • are applying for the first time & have been Unemployed from 1 October 2019 or have just become Unemployed or are on Leave without pay

Members must apply on myFNPF app or through their employer. 

The maximum withdrawal amount is $1,100 per member from their General Account (GA). Payment will be in five instalments of $220 per fortnight as per the payment schedule.

Government will top up to the maximum amount for members with insufficient General Account.

Link: Phase 2 Round 2 Requirements & Forms

Phase 2 Round 3

Members who have been Unemployed from 1 October 2019 or have just become Unemployed or are on Leave without pay can apply for Phase 2 Round 3 from 28 October 2020.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Members who withdrew in Phase 2 Round 2 and indicated that they agree to be continually assisted for COVID-19 withdrawal; will be automatically re-registered for Phase 2 Round 3.

Link: Phase 2 Round 3 Requirements & Forms

Phase 1 is in two categories.

  • Category 1 (Government Top Up is applicable) –  employees who work in the Tourism Sector ($1,000) and those affected due to physical distancing issues or work within the lock-down zone nation wide ($500).  Employees who have had reduced working hours; been sent on leave without pay; reduced wage rate or salary; terminated or permanently laid off can apply for either $1,000 or $500 withdrawal.
  • Category 2 (Government Top Up NOT applicable) – covers taxi, mini van or hire drivers, small enterprise owners and employees who have resigned, been terminated, non-renewal of contract, laid off or seasonal workers in the last 6 months can withdraw up to $1000 from their General Account depending on their eligibility. 

Note: Phase 1 withdrawal closed on 29 May 2020.

Link: Phase 1 Requirements & Forms

Tourism Talanoa: Our Care Fiji Commitment

BEST WESTERN Hexagon International Hotel Villas & Spa

FHTA, 22 October 2020

2020 will be remembered as a year defined by adjustments and pivots.

Everyone from hotels to bands to schools has been forced to make changes on the fly to best navigate the constantly changing state of global affairs and if you have not already done so, it is time for everyone to do the same.

And many of us involved in tourism has been busy working on our own recovery plans and how we can help others with theirs.

Last week the Care Fiji Commitment program was officially launched by Tourism Fiji at the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport offices.

This comes at a critical time for tourism operators in Fiji as this program will set the standard for the industry with regards to operations in the New Normal.

The main aim for the entire exercise is to reassure potential travellers that Fiji is safe, that we know how to keep you safe and that we are serious about protecting our workers and our communities when the borders open.

To get everyone on board with what must be practised industry-wide, the Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) demands everyone’s obligation to agree that they will comply by registering their business, receiving the information, links, training and collateral and allows access to downloadable action plans that are simple to follow and incorporate as part of existing policies and procedures.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA) played an integral part in researching and finalizing the minimum COVID-19 Safety Standards and the Standard Operating Procedures portion of the CFC program that was compiled in consultation with stakeholders from the tourism industry, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Transport and Tourism (MCTTT), through the Tourism Recovery Team and endorsed by the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce and Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The long and widely consultative process has achieved a milestone outcome where the industry now has a comprehensive minimum standard by which tourism businesses, their staff, customers, and suppliers can easily incorporate and comply with.

While specific details are provided for accommodation providers, they are simple enough to be tailored for use by restaurants, bars, retailers, tour operators, transportation providers, offices and most areas where staff and customers are involved.

The identification and training for Wellness Ambassadors, who will take the lead role as a business’s in-house COVID-19 safety champion has been introduced as part of the program to indicate the business’s commitment to have one or more trained staff that will train other staff, monitor customer behaviour and be ready to assist in contact tracing and other best practice COVID-19 safety protocols.

All businesses compliant with the CFC will be able to be recognised clearly by customers, suppliers, wholesalers and booking agents.

Tourism operators in Fiji saw the need for this Commitment very early in the pandemic and this exercise has been several months in the making with many minds and hands collaborating to ensure its successful launch and subsequent implementation. Visitors, local and international, can then be reassured upon arrival in Fiji that their entire journey is safe.

With global travel coming to a halt, over 80% per cent of Fiji’s tourism sector has become unemployed. Some of these tourism workers have been rehired or are doing more hours now with the “Love Our Locals” domestic tourism focus on right now. Many more will be reemployed when international travel resumes, so Fiji is ensuring the resources being put into place will fortify the industry for a strong economic comeback.

The natural move from the workplace, to taking the main messaging of practising good hygiene, social distancing, not sharing equipment and utensils and wearing masks when in confined spaces and in the company of people other than your close family, into our communities is then expected.

Fiji is not alone in moving through these phases as countries that are as heavily tourism reliant globally have taken similar steps to enforce the new safety programs, get tourism businesses aligned, train staff and move this messaging into communities.

Tourism dependent Jamaica, for example, has included training COVID-19 Ambassadors within their communities. The Bahamas and Hawaii have released videos on national TV and social media platforms to reaffirm the hygiene reminder protocols with Hawaii enacting a new law making the wearing of face masks mandatory in public.

While it has not been discussed at any great length by anyone, the industry hopes the steps it is taking will also be mirrored by other industries that come into close contact with thousands of customers on a daily, physical basis. Tourism touches almost every other business by default and everyone needs to practice a safer workplace.

Earlier this week, Tourism Fiji held a webinar session with industry stakeholders as they gave an overview of what the CFC will entail and how it will work.

Once implemented industry-wide, Fiji hopes that the communication of our success at implementing these processes to our key target markets will provide the required confidence to create further interest in bookings and maybe even to convince the
relevant ministries here and across the ocean that we can plan on opening those borders soon.

Lockdowns and enforced isolation have resulted in travellers desperate to take vacations away from their current surroundings, with money to spend, and Fiji is well placed to provide this, given the right environment. The increased enquiries and bookings still being made reflect this.

FHTA is doing all it can to assist tourism industry stakeholders to prepare well, make the commitment, and adopt the safe practices to ensure that Fiji can safely reopen its borders for visitors.
We also strongly encourage all tourism operators, regardless of size and activity, to register their expression of interest with Tourism Fiji to ensure that they are not left out.

Barring the success and global distribution of a vaccine for COVID-19, the next best step for Fiji is mitigation and working with containment and doing our very best to ensure we keep our people safe now and in the future.

As we continue to focus our efforts on getting international visitors back to our shores, it in no way diminishes the positive effects that domestic tourism has had and is appreciated by the industry.

We remind everyone again, to enjoy the facilities provided during your stay and leave it better than how you found it, for the next person to enjoy.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 22 October 2020)

The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa Talks about Pinktober, Breast Cancer Awareness and the Pink Passport

The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa Talks about Pinktober, Breast Cancer Awareness and the Pink Passport

Nadi, Fiji ­ – ­October 21, 2020-

Marriott International Fiji Resorts continues to support the well-being of its associates through continuing initiatives like the ‘Pink Passport’ and the recently launched meQuilibrium platform. Launched last year, the ‘Pink Passport’ a small booklet given to all female associates and it is used to keep track of their breast examination either done at the local hospital or at the hotel.  This process can contribute to early detection of breast cancer and other related infections. As associates at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa celebrated Pinktober on Wednesday, they were sentimental listening to the multiple presenters talk about Breast Cancer Awareness and Pinktober.

“Breast cancer was largely spoken about behind closed doors, not something that people acknowledged in public, women had very little support and there was little understanding of the emotional ramifications of the disease as well as the emotional trauma that one would lose a breast or two in some cases both, therefore many women suffered in silence which they sometimes considered a shame”, commented Neeraj Chadha, Multi-Property Vice President Marriott International Fiji & Samoa, General Manager Sheraton & Westin Hotels. “The commitment in raising awareness by the Fiji Cancer Society is commendable and we certainly thank them for this and certainly help the Fijians turning an eye to better awareness. Marriott International in Fiji has made a commitment towards the welfare of its associates and support towards Pinktober. Pink Passport has launched just over a year ago, and this is to help our associates keep a better track of their health and most recently we have launched meQuilibrium program. This is an app associates download which helps with stress management especially during these times.”

The year 2020 has ushered in a time of much uncertainty. COVID-19 has brought significant threats to the normal way of life – physically, emotionally, economically – and, sadly, a steady increase in mental health concerns. The recently launched meQuilibrium program is a proven stress management platform. The app allows associates to discover simple techniques to manage stressful thoughts and situations. The scientifically proven tool uses behavioural psychology, neuroscience, and analytics to help associates strengthen their resilience. Marriott International has partnered with the team at New Life Solution, Inc to help associates improve their lives and the lives of those around them.

Speaking at the event were Dr. Zen Low from Zen’s Clinic, Margie Erbsleben representing the Fiji Cancer Society and Jessica Bale, a cancer patient carer.

As a carer, Jessica Bale emotionally spoke of how difficult it was for her mentally to come in terms of the demise of her father recently from prostate cancer who had been suffering for over two years and was in the late stages.

“As a family member it is quite hard to accept and take in. His first diagnosis was back in 2015 and however in 2008 he used to complain of backaches which we thought that it was probably a strain. We looked at the internet for remedies and get his back problem solved” said Jessica Bale, a cancer patient carer. “However, we did not get him to go the doctor back then but when my mum called and told me back in 2015 that he had prostate cancer; I thought my family member wouldn’t get it. We hear about it but do not think that it’s real. It was very hard to accept it had affected my dad. I was emotionally exhausted and distraught. I encourage everyone to go out there and get tested. It is better to know in the early stages.”

The event was made possible through associates who volunteered their hours to make this event possible through extra efforts led by the dynamic human resources team.

Associates are encouraged to take a daily serving of salad in the Bula Bistro (associate cafeteria) as part of healthy eating.

Marriott International prides itself on the philosophy of its founder, J. W. Marriott which is “Take care of associates and they will take care of the customers”.  Thus, the health, safety and wellbeing are paramount at Marriott International. The wellbeing – including mental and emotional wellness – is so important for associates to feel their best.

Tourism stakeholders share knowledge on keeping children and communities safe

Tourism stakeholders share knowledge on keeping children and communities safe

Fiji Times 23 October 2020 – Designed by the AVI, the workshop was facilitated by the Child Safe Volunteering Hub Pacific, in collaboration with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Distinctly, the tourism industry is a leading global force for positive change across many economies around the world, including Fiji.

Therefore, the need to establish a fully functioning industry supported by the public sector were canvassed on the day by way of touchstones such as policy instruments, planning, guidelines and standards to name a few.