Tourism Fiji has outlined its corporate strategy for the next two years, with an objective of reaching FJ$3 billion in tourism spend by the end of 2024.
Travel and tourism play a huge role for Fiji, representing 38% of the country’s economy, and sustaining a workforce of 118,000 people (or 36.5% of employment). Such is the importance of the segment, a whopping 75% of revenue generated in December 2022 – when international travel restarted for Fiji – came from tourism.
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Speaking at the Fijian Tourism Expo in Denarau this morning [Thursday 12 May 2022], Brent Hill CEO of Tourism Fiji said the organisation is targeting a “relatively short” term growth plan, noting that based on the impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 it seemed “pointless having a five-year plan”.
Hill confirmed Fiji’s primary markets remain Australia, New Zealand and the USA, with less traffic now coming from Europe and the South Pacific compared to 2019, and China – which was Fiji’s fourth-largest source two years ago – now virtually zero. He is however optimistic that with the reopening of travel through Singapore, visitor numbers will rise from European countries.
Increased airlift to Fiji would also drive competition and demand for the South Pacific destination, with Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia reintroducing capactiy from Australia, alongside Air New Zealand for the Kiwi market. That is on top of Fiji Airways’ double daily Sydney flights, and daily services to Brisbane and Melbourne, and soon-to-relaunch, twice-weekly frequencies to Adelaide.
Hill said Fiji’s room inventory is also steadily rising with demand, as more and more properties resume operation, including the recent reopening of Sheraton Fiji Golf and Beach Resort and Six Senses Fiji. Enhancements at the Westin Denarau and the Pullman Wailoaloa Beach will provide a further boost of around 500 rooms.
Speaking at his first major tourism show since taking the reins as CEO with Tourism Fiji in late 2021, Hill highlighted six key priorities for the next two years. They include:
- Sustainably growing demand
- Supporting experience development
- Focussing on sustainability
- Shaping perception of Fiji
- Promoting the value of Tourism to Fiji, and
- Enabling an efficient, high-performing and innovative team
Among those priorities, growing demand is centred on reaching 300,000-350,000 visitors by the end of 2022, valued at around FJ$950-$1B; then 674,000 visitors in 2023, valued at FJ$2 billion; and FJ$3 billion by the following year.
Experience development includes new activities and adventures such as visiting the honey farms of Fiji’s Sun Coast and kayaking tours of the Yasawas. An objective will be to have visitors spend more money per stay. Currently, the average visitor spend is around FJ$3,000 per person. Visitor dispersal and leaving the sanctuary of a resort for a chance to explore the destination beyond will be encouraged, while boosting spend.
Under the sustainability banner, Tourism Fiji will recruit a Sustainability Officer to its workforce in order to own this space, and promote conservation opportunities for visitors to be hands-on.
On the perception front, Hill said the focus was changing the mindset from what people think they know about Fiji, and more to culture, food and the way of life.
Concluding his presentation to trade partners at FTE, Hill said: “The tourism trade plays such a critical role for us achieving these goals and reaching these numbers. We wouldn’t be anything without you guys.”
The Fijian Tourism Expo runs until Friday 13 May.