Tourism sector ‘cautiously optimistic’

Tourism sector ‘cautiously optimistic’

The Fiji Times, 12 August 2023 – A leading tourism expert says tourists from Australia will still choose to travel to a short-haul tropical destination despite the economic challenges in the region.

Tony Whitton, managing director of Rosie Holidays and Ahura Resorts, said this considering the World Bank statement that Australian and New Zealand tourists may spend less in Fiji as inflationary pressure back home affects their disposable income going forward.

“It is something that we have to monitor closely, but as an industry, we remain cautiously optimistic that Fiji will still perform well out of these markets in 2024,” Mr Whitton said.

“As a company, we are grateful to these two markets that account for 70 per cent of our total visitor arrivals and never want to take these results for granted as we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

“This is an infinite journey of constant and never-ending improvement.”

Mr Whitton said Fiji still had unique offerings to Australian and New Zealand travellers; enhanced flight connectivity, only a few hours away, refurbished resorts, a reputation for natural beauty, English speaking, warm hospitality, rich culture, and safe- and family-friendly.

He said leading stock market analyst and tourism specialist John O’Shea stated that based on historical statistics, Australians allocate 6.5 to 7.5 per cent of their total income for a holiday, regardless of the economy.

“In fact, John O’Shea is predicting that this could increase to 8.4 per cent to 9.5 per cent as Australians will always want a holiday and seek an escape to a tropical destination.

“Secondly, ANZ Bank’s Pacific report in June commented that despite inflation, Australian households currently have close to $A186 billion ($F272b) in their savings accounts and a percentage of their savings will always go towards an overseas holiday, irrespective of the economic conditions.

“Finally, Fiji’s market share of all Australian outbound travel is about 10 per cent and this is still very niche. These households with good savings will not feel the mortgage pinch as much.”

Mr Whitton said local tourism stakeholders would have to continue to remain cautiously optimistic for next year.

He said that if anything, they would have to continue to provide value-for-money packages and continue to provide high levels of service to international visitors as they want them to enjoy Fiji and come back.