FHTA 26 May 2020 – Following last week’s discussions with the Ministry of Employment and tourism businesses in Nadi that included 5 face-to-face sessions and a Webinar to allow stakeholders who could not attend to also register their issues, the Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association (FHTA) notes the increasing anxiety of their tourism members as the current options of reduced hours and Leave Without Pay timeframes are due for review in the next few weeks.
While revenue earnings have ground to a halt since Government shut the borders to protect Fiji’s population, expenses and operating costs still remain and there is a great concern for businesses remaining viable during what is now looking to be a long drawn out hibernation period.
With travel and tourism being very labour intensive it is expected that not only are many more jobs at risk but that this will be felt throughout the whole tourism value chain.
“Of even greater concern is that we can also expect that this will affect the most vulnerable groups of the population such as women, youth and rural communities” CEO for FHTA, Fantasha Lockington noted.
“We are hopeful that the Tourism Bubble discussions between our Governments continue positively but there is a need to understand that this is not going to happen anytime soon until safety concerns are adequately addressed and in the meantime, every business is continually reviewing their operations to simply survive”.
As the business transition into the next phase of survival, they will be considering extended leave without pay options and terminations and redundancies will be more common in the coming weeks because tourism operators are struggling to continue holding on to staff with their current arrangements.
“We are optimistic that things will pick up eventually, however, this may take months and even years to get to the visitor arrival levels that Fiji was used to. So we are expecting a slow start, which in turn will translate to a smaller uptake in employment until the demand grows,” Ms Lockington added.
Tourism has a proven capacity to bounce back and drive the recovery of other sectors. For this to take place, Fiji needs strong tourism businesses, a viable national airline and an innovative national tourism office; all of whom need nationwide support.