FHTA, 20 October 2022 – There isn’t any need at all to rehash the tourism industry’s challenges over the past few years.
As a tourism-reliant economy, every Fijian either experienced it directly or indirectly.
But we KNOW everyone felt it in some way, and many continue to be affected!
Whichever industry you are in, public or private, there was no doubting tourism’s far-reaching effects on our people and our beautiful islands.
If you hadn’t known then, you most certainly knew now, just how important tourism is to Fiji and its friendly populace.
That’s why it feels surreal that this time next week, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association HOTEC Tradeshow 2022 will be open to the public and more importantly to the tourism operators, who for the most part have not been able to take a breath from the pre-reopening border preparations of late 2021 to the almost overwhelming response from visitors returning to Fiji over the last 11 months.
Supplier display booths didn’t take long to sell out and this was largely due to the eagerness of tourism suppliers to showcase their updated products and refreshed services directly to the Tourism Industry.
HOTEC is Fiji’s leading annual hospitality tradeshow and in its 17th iteration, it continues to grow, albeit with a two-year gap.
It’s a space where suppliers can meet and pitch to potential clients and even create business contracts.
But our key outcome for providing this space is to challenge the industry to consider more productive business options, cleaner energy and greener processes, and to challenge local and international suppliers to provide alternative and innovative solutions to the current issues created by supply chains that have not been able to recover from the pandemic induced shipping and manufacturing backlogs.
During and post-pandemic, we have heard through consistently highlighted news from the media of the supply chain disruptions. With endless footage of shipping bottlenecks as container vessels full of parts and raw materials were stuck at sea, unable to unload their cargo in ports. Even if the shipments finally made it to shore, ground transportation wasn’t available to move them to the next destination.
Manufacturing facilities and warehouses closed down, while distribution centres and retailers couldn’t obtain or move along the materials they needed. Consumer demand shrank as people stayed at home or struggled with their financial difficulties. The situation has not improved and where it has improved, has often resulted in higher costs to the consumer because of increased labour costs, storage, longer routes and rising insurance premiums covering every aspect of the supply journey.
As economies struggle to recover, this situation has given rise to a whole new way to re-examine supply chain management strategies as experts in the business predict at least another year of supply chain problems.
Having heard that a year ago, industry sceptics continue to grow.
It was time therefore to review where we were getting our products from and if costs were rising anyway, considering our options in terms of quality and accessibility.
Suppliers, new and old, have found that HOTEC is a great platform to market new and innovative products or services and new ways to do business.
Sometimes our exhibiting suppliers even learn from their fellow exhibitors about the latest trends, so a win-win all around.
We have actively engaged with local suppliers of fresh produce, manufactured goods and importers or agents to encourage them to bring their game face to what will be a competitive environment.
Here is an industry that has gotten off its knees and is ready to soar but the cost of all things associated with the industry has also soared – replacing skilled staff, ensuring heightened sanitisation processes are in every aspect of a hotel, resort, hired vehicle, vessel or plane, purchasing meat and seafood for everyday menus, accessing quality beverages, dairy products, linen, crockery or glassware.
If you are refreshing your furnishings, interior design or updating your kitchens or simply changing your tiling; you have probably had to wait for materials, have been delivered half of what was promised and paid for and have probably cancelled the orders in frustration.
We have invited what we believe is a cross-section of suppliers to be able to showcase their wares because we welcome anyone genuinely interested to do business with tourism.
If the supply can be consistent and of a high standard, maybe a long-term relationship can be conjured up among the many dealings that will take place under the roof of the HOTEC venue, the Denarau Island Convention Centre.
We believe this is a step in the right direction to support businesses to establish or re-establish supply chains for quality goods and services to the entire tourism industry and maybe put suppliers on notice that they need to lift their game.
HOTEC promises to bring together many local and international suppliers willing to create business relationships with the hospitality sector and visitors will be spoilt for choice over the two days, in terms of the variety and quality of the goods and services on offer.
The emphasis is on reviewing and reimagining tourism’s needs.
From fresh food, and produce to dry goods, cleaner energy opportunities and newer recycling methods, as well as introducing cost and energy-saving information.
All interested parties are welcome to walk through our exhibition space and see for themselves what HOTEC is all about. Perhaps even consider where the gaps are that they may be able to supply in the future.
Local SMEs have also been supported to bring their products and services out to showcase what they can do. However small and fledgling they might currently be, niche products that epitomise their Fijian branding are always more than welcome – after all, many a local and now familiar export brand has been launched and tested on the tourism market
Entry is free to all.
Everyone is welcome to come down and see what’s on offer and take advantage of the HOTEC-exclusive deals, immerse themselves in the industry atmosphere and perhaps learn a thing or two about what food and beverage products (amongst many others) are the popular mainstays of an industry that is having to adjust to each challenge as the year has progressed.
FHTA is super keen on providing the right platforms to reach our industry stakeholders and key supply chains, having seen the many changes in travel post-reopening with expectations on food, service and products, as well as the pre-requisite safety elements that must now be built into all aspects of travel.
HOTEC 2022 and the FHTA Tourism Talanoa Symposium being held alongside (where industry, regulators and interested stakeholders discuss where tourism is moving to in the future and how we prepare for it) are our contributions to ensuring that tourism in Fiji continues to better itself tomorrow from what it was yesterday.
Understanding the challenges first, building strong collaboration and partnerships, using reliable data to make decisions – all in place in some form or other, but there’s still nothing like having to explain that there’s no tonic to go with that gin to mar your visitor’s very first Fijian sunset. Or denying them that butter-simmered lobster from the menu.
To deliver that dream holiday, we need strong supply systems that can deliver.
Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 20 October 2022)