FHTA, 6 October 2022 – .The beautiful island nation of Fiji celebrates 52 years of independence this weekend and what a journey it has been and continues to be.
Resilience for a Pacific Island country such as ours, shaped by nature’s ability to provide beauty and hurl mighty cyclones at us with equal ease, has been part of this exciting journey.
Let us pause to acknowledge all those that have shaped our country’s path – good, bad or indifferent; they have all impacted this enduring resilience to continue to harden our resolve to persevere, overcome, and succeed.
Our resurgent tourism industry has grown in leaps and bounds from the early days and has risen to become an undeniable force in Fiji’s revenue-earning potential, even after the forced pandemic-induced stoppage.
Over 40 percent of Fiji’s total Gross Domestic Product in 2019 was from the tourism industry and this speaks to how heavily we have come to rely on tourism in Fiji, perhaps by default because of our ideal location and naturally friendly people, sometimes at the cost of our environment, but always a welcome source of revenue, employment and generation of other side industries and supply chains nevertheless.
Accentuate the positives to eliminate the negatives, as Bing Crosby happily sang.
On the global stage, the nation’s tourism industry has slowly but surely cemented its position in the Pacific as a preferred holiday destination.
The Fijian brand continues to develop and extend itself to supply chains that have often started out responding to demand from tourism, then developing naturally into the domestic and export markets once these products have evolved and matured into proud versions of “Fijian Made”, making their way into the world.
These are classic examples of growth in the industry becoming broader-based, with increasing demand for local products specifically identified for their quality and unique nature-based origins that get exposed to international markets and provide more employment opportunities with global recognition and steady growth.
Beauty products, soaps, oils, gift items, jewellery, souvenirs and clothing are just some of the supply lines that get launched by, through or because of tourism.
The trickle-down effect to the grassroots level expands even further with the growing interest in eco-tourism and focus on protecting and conserving natural environments through tourism exposure and the demand for experience-based travel.
The industry is also the largest employer in the country with over 150,000 employed directly or indirectly in the sector, with more women and young people than other industries.
We have seen an increasing number of workers choosing to look for opportunities overseas as all industries in Fiji adjust as best they can, to the crippling demand for skills overseas to replace gaps left by workers choosing not to return to full-time work in those markets, as well as those left by the reduced number of international students, backpackers and other workers who returned to their homes during the pandemic.
Planning for keeping our pipelines ready and supplied for critical workers is required now if we are serious about ensuring we are looking ahead for the next ten years or more.
Demand for many other supplies is also impacting the delivery and quality of service, completion of infrastructure and buildings on time as well as catering to the discerning visitors or domestic shopper expectations.
Everything from the supply of fresh produce, seafood, dairy products and meat supplies in the quantities required and the high quality demanded is currently not sufficiently met or provided in quantities that only last a short time.
This has been a key part of bringing the Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association’s HOTEC trade show back to create more connections to suppliers offering alternatives or better options.
It also puts industry stakeholders in direct contact with suppliers to better understand industry challenges, create discussions and awareness around what is possible and can be made available, and in turn provide fresh solutions, ways to reduce operational costs and opportunities to improve how we make our businesses greener.
The trade show will not just be a forum to host suppliers showcasing their products but provides them opportunities to have hospitality staff taste wines, cheeses and locally produced coffee, as well as learn new ways to serve, preserve, protect and be more productive.
In partnership with the Fiji Chefs Association and alcohol suppliers, there will be cooking and cocktail competitions to show us the new levels you can take your bread making, gourmet planning or cocktail creation skills, with the option to learn from some masterclasses being offered over the two days.
International suppliers will be on hand to provide cleaner alternatives to cleaning, air conditioning and air purifying, while local agricultural producers will showcase their fresh produce to gain insight into hotel demand while connecting to chefs looking for fresh local options.
There will be technology and telco experts on hand to introduce the latest gadgets in security, software, connectivity and communication, as well as several suppliers bringing their latest technology and hardware to show what’s new for restaurants, hotel rooms, maintenance, water and power productions.
In the larger ballroom, just across from the tradeshow, and open to anyone working in or with the industry, the inaugural Tourism Talanoa Symposium is taking place over the same two days. The focus of the two-day “talanoa” type event is to provide operators with the opportunity to engage with a range of stakeholders to generate dialogue that promotes positive momentum as the industry continues its recovery post-pandemic.
A wide range of panellists are invited to share various challenges and opportunities within the industry, research and development insights and initiatives, digital and traditional marketing tools, and our corporate and strategic goals in moving the industry forward.
HOTEC and the Tourism Talanoa Symposium will take place from the 27th to 28th of October 2022 at the Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort on Denarau in Fiji and will be centred around the theme “Working towards a Sustainable, Marketable, Agile, Resilient and Travel-ready (SMART) Industry “.
This is one just of the ways we are looking critically at the current list of supply challenges, to better understand how demand is tracking and work together to ensure we can continue the current positive momentum.
We’re looking forward to seeing you all there.
Happy Fiji Day, everyone!
Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 6 October 2022)