FHTA Sustainable Tourism: Floating Sustainably on Cloud 9

FHTA Sustainable Tourism: Floating Sustainably on Cloud 9

FHTA, 25 June 2022 – Have you ever wished you could take a refreshing dip in a beautiful blue ocean and just float your troubles away?

Well, you can on Cloud 9. Float, dream, immerse and relax.

But it’s not just a floating experience or bar; it is a family-run business that is handcrafted with precision and creativity with visitor fun and great memory-making at its heart.

It is laid-back and naturally classy with a fun and unpretentious atmosphere.

Cloud 9 is just off Viti Levu, near Nadi and it floats in and around the waters of Vanua Malolo on Ro Ro Reef.

Only a 45min boat ride from Port Denarau, it opens its doors to everyone that wants to come on board and enjoy its impeccable service and awesome atmosphere.

But it is the thoughtful touches of sustainability that aren’t usually seen or noticed that make Cloud 9 a Fijian industry leader in this niche market.

The first thing that stands out about the floating platform is that it is entirely powered by solar energy.

They are a zero-carbon-emitting facility and successfully power their needs using 100% solar power.

There are batteries on board just in case the solar power isn’t enough to power the platform and such is their commitment to the pristine surrounding waters that there aren’t any fuel generators on board.

Cloud 9 is careful that they do not disburse any waste into the ocean.

Their respect for marine life and the subsequent aqua-environment is high.

Cloud 9 is proud to be part of the Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) working with all government and non-government stakeholders to ensure they use best practice options with the disposal of their waste products.

Stringently following the necessary protocols and standard operating procedures set out by authorities, all of their liquid waste from their environmentally-friendly toilet systems are tanked and then pumped and transported using their custom vessel MV Saba to the Port Denarau Marina fuel dock where it is then pumped into the Nadi town sewage system.

Port security logs this activity in their daily records and charges a modest fee for the service.

All of their solid waste is bagged in Port Denarau Marina’s branded garbage bags which are then separated and disposed of at the port bins to track the destination of all waste.

Before the guests make their way to the platform, they are reminded that Cloud 9 only endorses reef-friendly sunscreen and will not allow other types to be brought on board.

This extra measure is so that no toxins make their way into the water and onto the reef, effectively harming them and the delicate ecosystems that make their homes in and around our reef areas.

Cloud 9 also has a no straw policy as these could find their way into the ocean and harm the wildlife, including the additional support to reduce the use of plastic in our environments generally.

To support their nearby communities, Cloud 9 continues to manage and service solar panels and DC pumps in nearby Solevu -village as these are needed by the community to ensure a surplus of water for all personal, household and agricultural purposes because these areas often experience very low water supplies.

No generators or maintenance of any kind is required on a day-to-day basis by residents of Solevu for their water needs and this program has been running for the past 10 years.

Also under the MES, Cloud 9’s reef restoration project is undertaken by Solevu villagers that work for Cloud 9.

They firmly believe that this reef rehabilitation is an important outreach and promotes inclusiveness with the Vanua in their reef’s sustainable management.

Any business in the area must ensure that the surrounding ecosystem and community aren’t being disadvantaged, so Cloud 9 safeguards that with robust protocols and procedures to ensure that at the end of the day, the environment is always looked after.

This is what sets them apart from others and it’s why they love Fiji and Fiji loves Cloud 9.

For information on the above, you can contact FHTA (info@fhta.com.fj) or contact Cloud 9 directly.

Published in the Fiji Sun on 25 June 2022

FHTA Tourism Talanoa: Rounding Up 56 Years

FHTA Tourism Talanoa: Rounding Up 56 Years

FHTA, 23 June 2022 – Tourism members are gearing up for the 57th Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) which is scheduled for this week.

It’s our first AGM post-pandemic and the tourism sector will have a lot to say about what the state of the industry is.

We cast our thoughts back to this time last year and most of the industry’s concerns were with the Delta variant and the subsequent second wave of transmissions and infections and genuine concerns about border reopening plans not being able to be realised.

The nation had banded together and lined up to get vaccinated even while navigating through our first real taste of how cyber trolls can spread misinformation.

Thankfully good sense prevailed and more people accepted that vaccinations were (and still are) the safest and most protective thing you can do according to science.

Countries and cities around the world were, during this time last year, still in the grip of hard lockdowns in various forms and these were challenging for families and businesses both financially, economically and psychologically.

Fiji’s Ministry of Health was resolute in its decision to not implement a similar lockdown in Fiji, once the first rounds were deemed unsuitable to our communities, and in hindsight, we believe that to be an informed and commendable decision.

And as we reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation; it is easy to overlook how hard we have worked together towards a common goal – that of reopening our borders again safely.

Communication efforts have increased considerably in the last month to the general public, encouraging them to get their second booster shot in efforts to help Fiji to stay ahead of future viral threats.

But as only 30 percent of eligible adults have received a booster thus far, the good doctor continues to remind us that the biggest tragedy that Fijians can suffer is not acknowledging the sacrifices that have been made over the past few years.

We agree. It has taken a world of pain amid massive upheavals and untold tragedies to get us where we are right now and we cannot afford to lose our momentum.

As usual, tourism workers are ahead of the pack in getting their requisite inoculation jabs as their work deals directly with incoming visitors and guests, reinforced by the consistent messaging within the industry that we put the safety of staff and guests first.

Better to always err on the side of caution.

So, we will continue to support our industry’s employers to access the best advice on the policies for a safer workforce.

But that has always been a hallmark of Fijian tourism – always looking to go above and beyond to get the industry moving in the right direction.

A year on and even with things starting to look up and tourism’s visitor numbers bouncing ever upwards and business humming along in tourism hot spots, we know we’re not quite ‘’there” yet – with 2019’s economic gains being used as the benchmark to work out whether we’re back to normal again.

And it’s not hard to understand why.

On the back of a receding pandemic threat and travel restrictions being wound steadily back, we started with threats of a Ukraine invasion that was happening at the same time as supply chains feeling the impact of China’s decision to completely stamp out COVID with further lockdowns.

This led to the inevitable imbalance of manufactured goods in those Chinese factories becoming scarcer and then eventually drying up and imports slowing down because suddenly all the containers for imports were on the wrong side of the world.

Economists that had earlier predicted a 6% global growth, reviewed this downwards with 2022 starting with expectations of “disrupted recovery and higher inflation” predicted.

6 months into the year and 7 months post-reopening, we face increasing fuel costs, increasing labour costs due to skilled labour shortages, and increasing imported goods costs and in our key visitor markets, we can already see rising interest rates and further predictions of economic slowdowns.

But we press on as an industry because we have more than just skin in the game.

This includes tourism’s inherent connections to the communities that they are a fundamental part of, and a vibrant industry that at its peak can employ 150,000 Fijians both directly and indirectly, while playing a key role in foreign exchange earnings, a considerable contribution to corporate taxes and with a significant impact on GDP.

So as we gather for the Annual General Meeting this week to recap a year spent hauling ourselves from ground zero to running at significantly high capacities that we hope will allow some clawing back of much-needed yield, we will also discuss rapidly changing challenges even as we try to understand and assimilate evolving global travel trends.

This week, we also submit our National Budget Submission that encapsulates the industry’s recommendations on solutions to the current challenges, and updates on critical tourism trends that Fiji must be able to deliver on if it is to remain the competitive tourism destination it is known for, and identify key opportunities to stay focused on tourism’s continued sustainability.

FHTA has identified three key action areas in its budget submission that Government might consider looking into as we navigate our way past the host of issues facing even the largest global economies.

Firstly, the industry needs more time post-reopening to better utilise the previously released budget for policy and tax incentives.

This will support businesses with increasing operational costs that continue to be forced upwards by global economic conditions and supply chain challenges that have been further exacerbated by the Ukraine war.

Also identified is the need to continue to provide critical support for the recovery of SMEs, many of whom are still struggling to reopen.

And finally for the wider recognition and implementation of sustainability policies and practices that support a national focus across all industries, public sectors and communities.

At this AGM, we will celebrate the industry’s success stories since the country’s reopening and we will also dissect the weak spots that will require pragmatic recommendations and solutions in the same way we approach many other challenges – by consulting and always asking how we can improve.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 23 June 2022)

FHTA Sustainable Tourism: Marine Conservation at Plantation Island Resort

FHTA Sustainable Tourism: Marine Conservation at Plantation Island Resort

FHTA, 18 June 2022 –

It is not just about providing a perfect holiday spot and not just about corals either at the popular Plantation Island Resort in the Mamanuca group of islands just off Nadi.

After a long two years, the southern tip of Malolo Lailai Island came alive on Friday, April 1st 2022.

Plantation Island Resort finally welcomed international guests to their doorstep with a long overdue ‘Bula’!

Since then, the island resort has roared back to life with a buzz of excitement from staff and guests alike.

During the pandemic-induced closure, the resort used the time to implement several improvements and upgrades.

Their renowned restaurant and bar facilities have undergone stunning makeovers, amongst other improvements, and they will launch their brand-new Kids Club next month.

However, like many resorts around Fiji, their focus is firmly set on sustainability and therefore they have a few initiatives in place to ensure that through these conservation practices, their beautiful island and surrounding oceans are conserved for future generations to enjoy, whilst ensuring their guests can experience and appreciate their gorgeous surroundings.

Carefully thought-out steps have been put in place to provide more sustainable and environmentally friendly travel around the island including the highly recommended use of bicycle rentals to guests explore the island’s beauty and its many activity offerings.

They also have a unique and fun underwater museum with its own golf buggies, a formal dining setting and villages of fish houses to explore.

Guests are encouraged to snorkel and explore marine havens around the island, as well as learn about Plantation Island Resort’s dedication to marine conservation.

For this, they have partnered with Dr Austin Bowden-Kerby and the University of the South Pacific since 2018 to implement a number of reef protection initiatives and to foster sustainability and protection of the surrounding waters.

Along with 2 resident Marine Biologists (Sarah & Keleni), the Plantation Island Resort Team have been cultivating coral gardens to grow coral for reef restoration projects locally and globally.

The man known as “the coral gardener”, US-born marine biologist Dr Austin, pioneered the unique reef restoration technique.

He has created a coral restoration ecology manual and action strategy that merges decades of observations from field sites in 12 nations, coupled with relevant published literature.

His passion and assistance in this field have been an incredible boon to the resort’s coral conservation and marine restoration program that he and the staff at the resort are responsible for.

Other sustainable and eco-positive projects on the island include Giant Clam nurseries, seaweed farming and mangrove planting.

While the focus is mainly on corals, other projects support and strengthen the local environment and help prevent some of the adverse effects of climate change among the area’s reefs and local oceans.

Giant clams are a vital part of coral reef ecosystems in the Indo-Pacific and they play a crucial role on the reefs in which they’re found. As large bivalves, they are efficient water filterers, removing excess nutrients that flow into the reefs from land.

They also grow very large, dense shells which contribute to the growth of reef structure and provide habitat and settlement points for a wide range of other reef animals.

Seaweed farming or Kelp farming is the practice of cultivating and harvesting seaweed. In its simplest form, it consists of the management of naturally found batches and consists of fully controls the life cycle of the algae.

Finally, planting mangroves has been proven to help with environmental issues and they thrive in areas with low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow sediments to accumulate.

Mangroves thrive in brackish waters and help to control coastal inundation, especially in Pacific Island countries.

Guests at Plantation Island Resort are also included in Clean-up Campaigns around the resort property, primarily on the beach, to help keep the surroundings tidy and free of waste.

The resort’s long-time commitment to the environment includes the banning of single-use plastic shopping bags in 2017, the banning of plastic straws in 2018 and the more recent introduction of plastic water bottle recycling.

In 2019 the resort was the first South Pacific partner to join the Oceanic Standard Commitment and replace single-use amenities with bulk-use toiletries.

Coupled with the in-house health and safety protocols of their Savasava Hygiene Promise coupled with Fiji’s Care Fiji Commitment, Plantation Island Resort is well placed to not just keep their guests safe but also to keep their staff and surrounding communities safe as well.

The commitment to community, the environment and all things green keeps the resort staff and their guests who support these efforts busy throughout the year.

Published in the Fiji Sun on 18 June 2022

FHTA Tourism Talanoa: It Feels A Lot Like The Old Days

FHTA Tourism Talanoa: It Feels A Lot Like The Old Days

FHTA, 16 June 2022 – Seven months post reopening of the Fijian international borders, things are buzzing for this small, but resilient Pacific Island nation with the tourism industry keeping its tenacious grip on moving from recovery to opportunity and we hope, further growth.

And this is the case around the world as travel restrictions continue to get rolled steadily back.

This week the United States of America declared that they were removing the pre-arrival negative COVID-test requirement to enter their borders.

If anyone is planning to travel to or return to the USA soon, you no longer need to undergo mandatory COVID testing before departure as of Sunday 12 June 2022.

They join Canada, Australia and New Zealand that have implemented this previously.

From a Fijian tourism perspective, this makes it easier for travellers to get to our golden shores and make their way back home again with the minimum of fuss, and we are delighted with this prospect.

The travel world is starting to look like its old self again in most parts of it that are not otherwise hampered by conflict or the determination to completely stamp out COVID before reopening.

According to the Fiji Bureau of Statistics, the 97,979 Americans that arrived in Fiji back in 2019 accounted for 11 percent of Fiji’s total visitors and with minimal restrictions now confirmed, we can expect this market to continue to increase.

Early 2020 arrival figures for American visitors and indeed all other nationalities looked promising and we believe we would have surpassed our targeted one million arrivals in that year had it not been for the pandemic.

Rest assured, however, that the boots are well and truly on every tourism playground, resort and activity as we are working tirelessly with industry and authorities to aim to achieve that milestone or even higher.

The industry continues to acknowledge that the widespread phasing-out of travel restrictions does not mean that the COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end.

It merely signals a pragmatic shift by nations around the world to treat COVID-19 as endemic as we learn to live with a virus made less lethal by mass vaccination efforts.

We have stated on more than a few occasions in this forum, that rather than continuing to implement these travel restrictions and risk being alienated as a tourism destination – a status Fiji could not afford to take; we needed to provide a haven for our people, our communities and eventually our visitors through vaccination efforts and the inculcation of COVID safe practices, with extensive communication of these nationally.

The world has largely fully opened up again and the race to being the top tourist destination is well and truly on!

And because those tourism businesses that have been opened, or have opened up only recently have been way too busy dealing with full houses and not enough staff (more on this later), there was no celebration of any sort of pause to reflect on the journey to get here, when it was noted recently on Australian TV that Fiji was top of the list for Australians in their five key holiday destinations.

As mentioned in this forum last week, the industry has been experiencing an immense drain on labour, following hard on the already existing gaps we found post-COVID. Not all our staff chose to return to their original workplaces and not all tourism employers could take all their staff back immediately.

The reopening took place in phases across regions and across different tourism segments, with larger accommodation providers choosing to review the inventory levels they made available based on booking trends, access to staff, reopening preparedness and the need to have a percentage of room inventory set aside for guest isolation in the event they had COVID-positive guest cases.

The drain on skilled and unskilled staff means that everyone has to work even harder to fill the gaps with competent staff, and through even more training taking place than would otherwise be undertaken, especially during tourism’s peak season.

Unfortunately, it is not just the tourism industry feeling the impact of recruitment agencies looking for much-needed labour in hospitality, agriculture, finance and medical services.

Fiji is losing nurses, chefs, hospitality workers, accountants, skilled aged care workers, tradespeople and service staff.

New businesses setting up in Fiji, and existing businesses expanding or running at full capacity are therefore extremely challenged to find staff. This will mean that service standards and productivity levels drop, business costs escalate and already in-service staff are pressured to carry more of the workload because customer demands are currently high.

At a popular Suva restaurant recently, that was at full capacity where I was ordering dinner, I asked a tired-looking staff member what was the matter because she looked ill. She let out a long sigh and said they were short-staffed had been on duty since early that morning, and had not been able to take more than a 10mn break between the breakfast, lunch and current dinner service.

FHTA has invited tourism stakeholders to participate in our industry survey to better understand the future skills needs of the national hospitality industry.

We hope to share this data with the training and education sectors and the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations (MEPIR), to provide insights into the current industry issues on professional development and the links to recruitment and retention.

And the need to consider what solutions are required and required quickly, as has already been noted to them.

If you haven’t received the survey in your mail yet (or are not a member), drop us a line at info@fhta.com.fj and we’ll include you in the data collection.

We’re needing more hands-on-deck in the industry and every little bit helps the process moving along.

Tourism has only recently come out of a very long, dark tunnel and we’re not planning on going back anytime soon, so challenges like these need to be met head-on with collated data gleaned from surveys and industry and public sector consultations.

A short-term solution is obviously to bring in workers from overseas to fill these gaps but even that is fraught with its own set of challenges that include increased costs of doing business.

Our other key issue has been that while we make it simple enough to allow Fijian workers to go overseas to access work, we have not considered the current difficulty of accessing work permits for foreign workers which can take up to 3 months or longer to get approvals for.

We understand and support the need for stringent processes and why systems are designed to manage compliance, reduce human trafficking, protect local jobs, etc, but the introduction of online services still hampers efficiency efforts and continues to thwart inter-agency cooperation.

There is optimism all around with the increasing list of advertised jobs in the dailies and the upswing of tourism with increasing visitor numbers means those available jobs will remain constant and probably increase.

Discussing these issues with other employers in the construction, manufacturing, business outsourcing, mining, retail and airline sectors reveals that it is not just tourism feeling the impact of these skill gaps.

It might be starting to feel just like the old days, and while we are ecstatic about that, we are keenly aware that we must keep up the momentum so that we can come back full circle.

Fiji has been through too much already to simply allow things to slide, so let’s keep a wary eye open and always scan the peripherals.

We never really know what tomorrow will bring but we can be as prepared as we can ever be.

And that comes about from teamwork as working through COVID has taught us.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 16 June 2022)

Plastic Waste Free Islands (PWFI) Project Shares Recommendations

Plastic Waste Free Islands (PWFI) Project Shares Recommendations

On 15 June 2022, under its Plastic Waste Free Islands (PWFI) Project, IUCN through consultants Environment Law Oceania Consultancy (ELOC) conducted a validation workshop on proposed policy recommendations for the reduction of plastic waste leakage from the waste management, tourism and fisheries sectors in Fiji. Around 40 participants from government and non-government organizations, academic institutions, affiliations, associations and the private sector took part in this event.

The main objective of the workshop was to validate (i) the review of the policy and legal frameworks for plastic waste management and pollution prevention in the Waste Management, Tourism and Fisheries sectors in Fiji; and (ii) the proposed policy recommendations for the plastic leakage reduction measures in the three sectors.

Mr. Paula Katirewa, Project coordinator recapped some of the themes that were covered in the policy consultations in his opening address. Some of which were governance, legislation and policy, economic and market-based instruments, Innovations and environmentally acceptable alternatives to plastics, education, training and engagement and capacity building on plastics and data collection and monitoring. Mr. Katirewa encouraged feedback from workshop participants on the policy recommendations that were formulated from the consultations.

Consultant Ms. Patricia Parkinson of Environment Law Oceania Consultancy (ELOC) shared the approach and methodology that were adopted for developing the policy recommendations for the three sectors. The proposed recommendations were informed by a comprehensive review and analysis of the relevant international, regional and national policy and legal instruments analyzing the provisions relevant to plastic waste leakage and their impacts; a literature review; and most importantly by the outcomes of the consultations conducted with the stakeholders of the waste management, tourism and fisheries sectors in Fiji.

In response to a question from participant Ms. Patricia Malam – “Of all of the recommendations that you presented in relation to waste management, in your opinion what are the top 3 you think are practical and achievable in a 3-5-year time frame- and I ask this because there is an opportunity now with the window for budget submissions to government open for us to lobby the case?”

Ms. Parkinson identified the 3 top recommendations as

  1. Legislate for, and implement a Container Deposit Scheme, that will facilitate the establishment of (a) waste transfer station/resource recovery centre(s) for recycling;
  2. Improve waste collection and management, especially in rural and remote areas where a large part of the population does not benefit from a public waste collection system; and
  3. The development of a National Plastic Pollution Prevention Plan (N4P) to be incorporated in the Ministry of Waterways and Environment’s Waste Management and Pollution Control Strategy and Action Plan, which would include control measures to control (and eventually eliminate) the import of problematic and unnecessary plastics.

Other identified priorities include strengthening the enforcement of existing legislation relating to the reduction of plastic leakages, especially the ban on single-use plastic bags, as well as revising the legislation to address loopholes (such as the replacement of currently banned plastic bags with plastic mesh bags or thicker plastic bags), and sustainable financing for the implementation of the N4P.

For the Tourism sector, the key policy recommendations proposed included the enactment of a Sustainable Tourism Act, to enable the implementation of the Fiji Tourism policy, and the development of a Sustainable Tourism Development Framework, as envisaged by the Fiji Tourism policy, which would provide practical tools for the implementation of plastic waste reduction and management measures. For the Fisheries sector, a range of proposed recommendations addressed the main issue of plastic leakage from abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), as well as from the dumping of waste by fishing vessels in the ocean. They included conducting awareness and training programs on waste management and ALDF; and attaching conditions to the issuance and renewal of fishing licenses, such as a waste management plan, reporting obligations, and the marking of fishing gear.

Following the conclusion of the waste audits and consolidation of recommendations from the Quantification and Economic Assessment work, Fiji takes lead in carrying out the process of policy review and development of policy recommendations for plastic waste leakage reduction measures in the three sectors. The same activity is expected to begin in Samoa and Vanuatu in the coming weeks. Ultimately the outcomes from this project will be incorporated into an approach that uses the learning from the project countries to develop a blueprint that essentially is a framework that can be used and promoted based on the unique conditions of the PWFI project countries, and can be used to guide other countries in a similar context particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDS) address some of these complex and difficult issues of plastic waste management.

The PWFI project is initiated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with funding from the Government of Norway to support the work on addressing the problem of plastic waste leakage from island states.

Noble Realty Company Pte Limited

Noble Realty Company Pte Limited
About Noble Realty Company Pte Limited

Noble Realty is owned and run by Stephen Noble right here on Taveuni. Originally from Canada, Stephen has been a resident on Taveuni and Fiji for over 25 years. In that time, he has gained a wealth of local knowledge and contacts which are now put to use matching potential buyers to their perfect properties in paradise.

Noble Realty has homes and land for sale on Taveuni Estates, Taveuni, also on Qamea, and neighboring parts of Vanua Levu, including real estate in Savusavu and Pacific Harbour. Our selection includes beachfront, homes, ocean view properties, rural and farmland, resorts and undeveloped land ideal for investments, new developments, and real estate portfolios.

Noble Realty Company Pte Limited is licensed #115 as a Real Estate Agent by the realbfiji.com

Stephen says:

“For most of my life I dreamed of living on a tropical island. Fortunately for me, and only after searching much of the Caribbean and South Pacific, I finally found the idyllic paradise…. the island of Taveuni located in fantastic Fiji.

For the last 25 years I have been blessed to live here in paradise. Much of this time of I have been actively involved with the renovating of my home, including electrical, plumbing, and alternative energy projects. My extensive experience in dealing with immigration, Customs, freight forwarding, local suppliers, building contractors etc. is knowledge I am happy to share with my friends and clients.

I have spent many hours donating my time to special and personally rewarding island projects, including the organizing and opening of a kindergarten school which I still run after 13 years. In addition, I am active member of the Rotary Club of Taveuni, a Fijian Citizen, a licensed Real Estate Agent, and the founder and President of Noble Realty Company Pte Limited. (Lic #115)

Through Noble Realty I wish to share my experiences and to assist people interested in buying property here on Taveuni and live their own dreams.”