FHTA Sustainable Tourism: The Duavata Collective: Small and Medium Enterprises Unite for Sustainable Tourism in Fiji

FHTA Sustainable Tourism: The Duavata Collective: Small and Medium Enterprises Unite for Sustainable Tourism in Fiji

FHTA, 18 March 2023 – .As one walks along the many miles of beaches around our islands, one cannot help but notice the stark contrast between the turquoise water and the piles of plastic waste that washed ashore.

It was a heartbreaking sight, but it also served as a stark reminder of the impact that tourism can have on the environment.

But Kasimiro Taukeinikoro, the Director of Rivers Fiji and a founding member of the Duavata Sustainable Tourism Collective, believes that tourism can be a force for good in Fiji if done right.

The collective is a group of 15 small and medium-sized tourism enterprises who came together, not because of the type of accommodation or experience they offer, but because they all share a common set of values about what the tourism industry should be and could be.

They are passionate about the preservation of Fiji’s natural environment, cultural heritage, and arts, and believe that with thoughtful planning, tourism can enhance cultural heritage and contribute meaningfully to environmental conservation and sustainable development.

However, despite strong policies on oceans and climate change, the tourism industry is not always aligned with these goals.

The strategies, legislation, and institutions that underpin the tourism sector were developed to support a tourism model of large resorts, and smaller operators often find themselves excluded from the sector because the current enabling environment is complicated, requiring interaction with multiple regulatory agencies.

Duavata members are committed to environmental conservation, but there continues to be a disconnect between these policies and parts of the tourism regulatory agencies.

Duavata’s vision for tourism is one where every Fijian in the country who has an idea for a tourism business can make that a reality.

They dream of an industry shaped by their own values of community, buying crafts from Fijian artists, food from neighbouring farms, serving local dishes, and allowing visitors to see beyond the big bula smile and get a deeper understanding of the country.

They dream of an industry that promotes and revives local building techniques with regulatory and insurance bodies that understand that the health and safety guidelines need to accommodate traditional building styles.

Duavata believes that travel should be a respectful exchange of ideas and cultures, and they are concerned that the current tourism offerings in Fiji do not always provide that.

They are calling for an honest conversation about the way in which Fijian culture is represented within the industry.

They know that tourism, when done well, can reinforce cultural practice and promote the preservation of traditional knowledge, but it struggles to do that without a deliberate and well-intentioned strategy.

Duavata members are committed to the idea of sustainability as a journey, not a destination. They believe there is always room for improvement, and they are working hard to improve tourism for Fiji.

They are calling for reforms to bring the enabling and regulatory environment into the 21st century to support the type of tourism they want, and increasingly the market wants to see.

They are hoping that the new tourism strategy will improve policy coherence across government so that everyone is sailing in the same direction.

Duavata is not just a group of like-minded tourism operators; they are a network of genuine partners who are committed to supporting each other’s businesses.

They know that when one member thrives, the industry benefits as a whole.

They are calling for support services, including good product development and business advice, to be offered to community-based enterprises to enable them to thrive.

They also believe that online booking platforms and connections to genuine partners are critical for small and medium-sized tourism enterprises.

Duavata’s mission is to create an industry that is authentic, sustainable, and not tokenistic.

They are a group of small and medium-sized tourism enterprises that are united in their vision for a better future for Fiji.

They are leading the way in sustainable tourism and proving that it is possible to have a tourism industry that is both profitable and sustainable.

Kasimiro was privileged to be a part of the 2023 World Indigenous Tourism Summit, in Perth, Western Australia during this week.

This summit is a very important gathering of indigenous tourism leaders from around the world, sharing their knowledge and experiences together, to advance opportunities for Indigenous people involved in tourism, in a welcoming, respectful and safe way.

For information on the above, you can contact FHTA (info@fhta.com.fj) or contact Rivers Fiji directly.
Published in the Fiji Sun on 18 March 2023