FHTA Tourism Talanoa: Plan Big to Play Big

FHTA Tourism Talanoa: Plan Big to Play Big

FHTA, 5 May 2022 – The biggest Super Rugby Pacific crowd was seen recently in Fiji – well for 2022 anyway.

What a splendid achievement and fantastic marketing for the central division’s ANZ Stadium in Suva and the game of super rugby in Fiji.

Fans piled into the ground and were in full voice throughout an event that was hailed for its exciting and passionate atmosphere.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association was particularly giddy with the event because it meant accommodation providers were also enjoying full capacity because of the game.

And we have no doubt this will happen again, but this time in Lautoka in the western division, on May 28 and against the Chiefs from Hamilton.

While several commentators are putting in what might be a premature call for Super Rugby’s Super Round to be held in Fiji because of the Fijian fervour and love for the game, industries like tourism are excited at the prospects of this nonetheless.

The Super Round is when all participating teams play their matches in one venue over three days, usually held near ANZAC Day.
What an amazing concept but in reality for Fiji, a logistical challenge of monstrous proportions.

That’s ten teams of 50+ players and staff each, TV crews, tournament staff and not least, both local and international fans.

While within the realm of possibility, it does provide a few headaches in terms of the requirements for accommodation and transportation and although on a scale far larger than tourism is used to managing, is certainly within event management organisation that we have to coordinate every so often – of course without the added requirements of very specific rugby facilities criteria that must be met.

Does Fiji have the required facilities for 40,000 or more people descending in one location for a week?

And is there a sporting facility able to accommodate several teams to train, warm-up, get physio and medical attention, as well as play in? All within the very specific required travelling time frames to get to and from their accommodation?

It would be tough we’ll admit, but worth a look and it would provide Fiji with the often-ignored opportunity to identify these gaps and address them by putting together some long term development plans to progress sporting facilities where accommodation availability is already in abundance.

We’ve dealt with large events before in Nadi so we’re well aware of the necessary logistics required, the planning time frames necessary and the effort that must go into the process to ensure success.

As the 2023 Super Rugby season hopefully returns to normal with the Fijian and Fijiana Drua teams hosting regular home games, it will give us a platform with which to launch a serious bid for the hosting of Super Round at some point in the not too distant future.

One should only imagine the crowds at the stadium, the coverage of the event being seen around the world and the subsequent economic activity, to be able to understand why it is definitely worth consideration for the relevant authorities.

The consideration we have no doubt has been provided previously, but not made it to the development and budgeting phase for whatever reasons.

In the meantime, Tourism continues to forge ahead in leaps and bounds as we cross over into May after a first-quarter that flew by so quickly.

But we know that everyone involved would rather be busy and under the pump than the alternative.

So, we’re putting our big Bula smiles on and greeting every guest, international or local, with a hearty Bula!

It is made even easier now with the removal of the pre-departure COVID-19 test for incoming visitors.

That has made Fiji a whole lot more accessible to all.

Effective from Sunday 1 May 2022, fully vaccinated visitors coming to Fiji by air or sea no longer need to produce a pre-arrival negative COVID-19 test.

This is in line with best practice for entry requirements among highly vaccinated societies.

However, Fiji has also widened its vaccination requirement for entry and travellers above the age of 16 years must now display proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before departure from their homes.

This will further reduce the risk of community transmission and allows the nation to capture a greater percentage of the fully vaccinated tourism market.

As mentioned in our previous articles, next week’s Fiji Tourism Expo is a welcome sight as it returns after a lapse of two years.

The event will provide Tourism Fiji with a marketing platform to remind the world through representatives of those who sell travel, exactly what Destination Fiji has to offer.

Of course, it is also the perfect opportunity to showcase more of the country’s attractions and culture that do not usually get highlighted in the media or on your virtual newsfeeds but have seen a quiet but determined demand come through.

Wholesalers and all manner of travel-associated salespeople will descend on Nadi in a flurry of activity to soak up information and experience first-hand what Fiji has to offer, especially now after 2 years of reviewing products, refurbishing and rebuilding.

A vibrant tourism industry, once fully revived means more critical economic activity, jobs and revenue circulating which in turn should reinvigorate spending and encourage further investments.

Despite many fully understanding the economic shortfalls without tourism its usually formidable influence on employment, supply lines and the large, multiplier effects throughout the country; the industry still cannot afford to be anything but pragmatic as it claws back lost ground.

And we do not intend to lose focus on all the other areas of tourism impacts that ensure the industry remains sustainable for generations to come.

As an example, FHTA will be attending the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Plastic Waste Free Islands (Pacific Small Island Developing States) Consultation workshop for the tourism & fisheries sectors.

This is regarding the ongoing challenge of the usage of single-use plastics in Fiji and we are particularly interested in the impacts on and for tourism.

So FHTA is working with stakeholders like IUCN to partner in the development of an action plan on enhanced plastic waste management for waste management, tourism and the fisheries sector in Fiji.

Waste audits conducted earlier have now concluded and the consolidation of recommendations from the Quantification and Economic Assessment work has been done, so all relevant parties are now working on formulating policy recommendations to improve the management of plastic waste in Fiji and reduce harmful leakages that could damage our beautiful environments.

Marketing our pristine beaches and seaside beauty, building the lovely stories around why and how beautiful Fiji is, is just as important as spending just as much effort as ensuring we are taking advantage of opportunities to develop new areas like sporting tourism, and even more critically important to be managing how we sustain the industry by keeping it clean and viable.

Only then Fiji can truly claim to be the way the world should be.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Published in the Fiji Times on 5 May 2022)