Participation at the Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) is expected to be a sell-out by trade partners next year.
Just as Fiji’s reopening this month to international tourists creates a groundswell in demand for hotel rooms over the summer months, hosted buyers are forecast to be lining up in their droves to attend FTE 2022.
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Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji told LATTE that after hosting the Virtual FTE in late November the tourism bureau is in the process of bedding down an event venue for the physical show. Traditionally held in May, the last in-person Fijian Tourism Expo took place at the Denarau Island Convention Centre at Sheraton Fiji Resort in 2019.
FTE 2022 will be Hill’s first expo for Tourism Fiji after his appointment in August this year, but he’s no stranger to the concept having been involved with the much larger scale ATE (Australian Tourism Exchange) when it was hosted in South Australia in 2018 by his former employer, the South Australian Tourism Commission.
“We’ll get a whole bunch of people over to Fiji and I suspect that’s going to be well oversubscribed. We’ll try and get as many people as we can here,” Hill commented.
The tourism boss said he was keen to spread the love across multiple locations, giving trade partners a chance to “go far and wide” and experience the best of Fiji, however FTE 2022’s format, date and location are yet to be announced.
“It’s a bit competitive at the moment,” Hill told LATTE of the process involved with selecting the location.
Meanwhile, Hill said the trade had been “incredibly important” in driving awareness of Fiji’s ‘Bula Bubble’ special offers that took the industry by storm in October.
“Luxury Escapes have been amazing. Expedia, Flight Centre – they’ve all been great.”
“It’s been absolutely staggering to see the volume of bookings. That’s the thing with the trade. We put together these amazing packages – which I salute the government for because they made that happen, and Fiji Airways – and we needed volume.”
“We didn’t want to take the New Zealand approach of slowly, slowly, slowly and start adding things on. We wanted to go hard, go early, go big,” Hill said of the Fiji relaunch campaign.
“Fiji Airways was amazing. They put 80% capacity back on from the outset, which is incredible,” he enthused.
“They copped a lot of criticism, but stood by their decision of we’re going for it, which is why we had to do a campaign that was just as big – to justify and match them.”
Speaking with LATTE at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa Fiji, Hill said trade partners were a crucial component in ensuring their clients’ Fijian holidays were smooth and hassle-free.
“They have all these great connections, like the Rosie’s [Rosie Holidays Fiji] and other operators. They make it all happen really seamlessly because that’s such an important thing for me.
“If we get this right over the next two months, and largely get by with only a few hiccups here and there, then people are going to go back and say that loved it – that’s really important as well.”
LATTE noted that Fiji Airways’ return to service flight on 1 December from Sydney to Nadi included a number of travel advisors and Fijian specialists from networks such as itravel and Travel Managers.
Hill explained he is keen to use the famil process “to highlight what’s happened over the last couple of years”.
“Almost every hotel has done something. The Waitui Beach Club here at the Sofitel… a lot of people haven’t seen this before. Radisson has new stuff. Wyndham has new stuff. Hilton has new stuff. VOMO’s got four more residences, Sheraton is being completely re-done. If we use the famil process right, there’s a lot of stories to tell.”
Hill is also in favour of self-famils for travel professionals, enabling greater flexibility and less regimented schedules.
“The ideal famil for me is: here’s a list of recommended places, here’s all the names and numbers, we’re here if you need us, then you go and make your own adventure. I think we get better results that way because then people are choosing to do things they really want to do.”
Additionally, Hill confirmed a new and enhanced version of Tourism Fiji’s Matai Specialist training platform is in the process of being updated. Travel advisors can register for the program at https://matai.fiji.travel/register.
Lead image: Tourism Fiji’s stand at FTE 2019