FHTA Tourism Talanoa: Harmony in Sustainability & Growth

FHTA Tourism Talanoa: Harmony in Sustainability & Growth

Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, 9 May 2024 – Our tourism sector has been abuzz with excitement and anticipation with the recent two major events aimed at propelling the tourism industry to new heights.

The Tourism Super Week, the South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) and the Fiji Tourism Exchange (FTE) have garnered significant attention, drawing stakeholders from around the region to explore Destination Fiji and Destination Pacifica’s immense potential.

The backdrop for these events couldn’t be more promising, with Fiji building on a record year of visitation in 2023 and keeping up the pressure to keep aiming higher.

Nearly a million visitors flocked to our shores, captivated by our natural landscapes and beauty, rich cultural heritage, and most importantly, our warm hospitality.

This visitation surge underscores our position as a premier destination and stresses the critical role that tourism plays in Fiji’s economy. In fact, tourism plays a very critical role in the Pacific region with smaller island states often solely dependent on this industry to sustain their fragile economies that are all too frequently impacted by the increasing frequency of climate change disasters.

These events attract many participants, including tourism operators, international buyers, media representatives, and government officials.

The recent FTE saw over 550 delegates, marking a 10% increase from the previous year.

This surge in participation highlights the global interest in Fiji’s tourism sector and the events’ effectiveness in bringing together key stakeholders worldwide.

The international reach of these events is profound, with attendees from around the world eager to see what’s new, what has been refreshed and what else is being added to the country’s offerings, contributing to a diverse and vibrant exchange of ideas and business opportunities.

The SPTE, hosted by the Pacific Tourism Organization further amplifies how the Pacific as a region can and should work closer together for a stronger presence on the global tourism stage, showcasing the South Pacific region’s culturally diverse offerings.

The tourism scene in Fiji is ever-changing, marked by ongoing property developments and expansions that signal growth and innovation. And if you had the opportunity to see what it was all about, you might be forgiven for thinking it was a lot of people having a great time reconnecting.

Beneath all the “show & tell” splendiferous displays and a wild array of specially designed uniforms and marketing pitches; lay a lot of effort and cleverly organised preparatory work.

Rebuilding old networks, creating new alliances, and forging new partnerships are the order of the events spread over a few days that also involve putting some of those new offerings on show through site visits.

Notably, the reopening of The Crowne Plaza Fiji Nadi Bay Resort & Spa at Wailoaloa in Nadi stands as a significant investment in Fiji’s tourism infrastructure, elevating visitor experiences with something new for the Wailoaloa and Nadi region, while also putting pressure on our public sector infrastructure development and planning people to hustle those plans and deliver to industry demand in a more timely manner.

There are many others planned or being developed in the pipeline. Their delivery dates are dependent for the most part on our ability to access the skill sets to get them going, the required regulatory approvals to be in place and the infrastructure for roads, water, and power to be in place when needed.

Beyond this, Fiji’s tourism sector has seen a surge of innovative hospitality ventures, showcasing adaptability and a commitment to meeting evolving visitor demands.

This includes expanding existing resorts, adding new visitor experience offerings, launching new accommodation options, and introducing immersive experiences that highlight Fiji’s culture, beauty, and hospitality.

These developments not only boost Fiji’s allure but also contribute to job creation, and economic diversity, and drive our consistent push to deliver sustainable tourism practices that will in turn protect and promote us in the long term.

By investing in upgrades and new ventures, we are constantly reasserting Fiji’s position as a competitive player on the global stage – this includes the national airline, accommodation providers, and the range of experiences, activities and products that provide a plethora of attractions for travellers seeking nature-based, cultural and immersive holiday experiences.

Sustainability is a core principle guiding Fiji’s tourism actions, with active measures to protect natural environments, conserve cultural heritage, and align growth with environmental responsibility.

Collaborations with international stakeholders are key not just to sustaining growth and promoting Fiji globally – our ability to showcase the points of difference setting us apart from the usual travel destinations is what will be eventually reflected in our booking confirmations.

This requires consistently checking research and data and being aware of what visitors want and why so we can shape the delivery to these expectations.

Notably, the rise in Australian visitors showcases Fiji’s appeal and efforts to diversify its visitor base, including targeting emerging markets like India and China for future growth opportunities.

While workshops and conferences are beneficial for networking and knowledge sharing, Tourism Fiji’s core focus is always on effective destination marketing.

But this marketing is getting more demanding and more expensive, so budgetary support for our ability to make a bigger difference in new markets, and stay front of mind in existing markets is a critical message for government.

By honing its expertise in marketing Fiji as a premier tourist destination, Tourism Fiji can allocate resources efficiently towards promoting attractions, improving visitor experiences, and driving tourism growth.

Government-led initiatives and partnerships can play a vital role in organizing workshops, conferences, and policies supporting sustainable tourism, environmental conservation, and industry regulations.

This collaboration allows Tourism Fiji to focus on marketing while leveraging government support for broader industry initiatives.

Fiji’s strategic partnerships with other airlines are pivotal in expanding reach and attracting tourists from key and new markets.

These collaborations enable convenient connectivity, competitive pricing, and targeted marketing campaigns appealing to diverse traveller demographics like luxury, adventure, family, and honeymoon travellers while tapping into existing supply chains and frequent flier programs.

Fiji’s commitment to sustainable growth, cultural preservation, and environmental protection is evident in recent events like the SPTE and FTE.

Initiatives have focused on eco-friendly practices, cultural awareness, and protecting natural environments, enhancing the tourism experience for visitors seeking genuine cultural immersion and pristine natural beauty.

As a private sector association for the tourism industry, FHTA’s commitment to conservation, sustainable practices, and community engagement has been driving this reminder as a key element to what will carry us into the next 70 years of the industry’s existence.

We’re dedicated to preserving Fiji’s natural beauty while ensuring tourism doesn’t harm the environment.

Sustainability is not just a trend; it’s essential for long-term success.

International partnerships are vital, helping us tap into new markets and promote responsible practices for sustainable growth as the world continues its slow but sure acceptance that we must be more responsible earth carers.

As the world returns to pre-pandemic numbers (or better), Fiji is geared up to welcome travellers more responsibly.

Our ongoing journey towards sustainability and resilience positions us well to lead and inspire positive changes in global tourism.

Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 9 May 2024)