BY RODERICK EIME IN FIJI
Amid stormy weather and giant waves that flooded several hotels, Fiji’s premier tourism trade event, Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE), continued regardless.
According to Fiji Police, watered entered rooms at Shangri La’s Fijian Resort, Naviti Resort and Spa where many delegates were staying as well as Tambua Sands and Fiji Hideaway. No injuries were reported, but a number of buyers and sellers had to relocate.
Anecdotal reports from delegates indicate that Coral Coast, with its seasonal weather vagaries, may not be the best venue for such a large event at that time of year. Denarau Island, with its close access to Nadi Airport, seemed to be the preferred option for 2012.
Despite the challenging weather, the mood was upbeat with encouraging figures released. While BFTE seller numbers were down in 2011, buyer numbers increased.
Fiji Tourism also released the following data:
-2010 visitor arrival (VA) result was best ever with a total of 631,860 (17% increase) hitting targets two years ahead of schedule (600,000 was predicted for end of 2012);
-Q1 2011 VA result: 126,942, representing a 3.66% increase over Q1 2010; and
-FOREX earnings up 3.6% to FJD$206.4m compared to same period in 2010
Additionally VA data from emerging markets identified China (up 30.9%) and the Middle East as areas for new growth.
Promotion of the VAT Refund Scheme and specialist surfing and superyacht (and charter) markets is also an indicator of future potential, especially in some of the outer regions.
Fiji’s Minister of Tourism’s, Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum, addressed delegates by saying: “Tourism has become our number one industry/foreign exchange earner and now represents some 31% of the country’s total GDP.
“Tourism is responsible for employing some 45,000 full time jobs within the total Fijian workforce.
“We are extremely thankful to the Fiji government for the critical role it plays in enabling us to continue to promote Fiji which has again allocated the huge sum of FJD23.5 million (for third year running) to assist in us in achieving our targets in our various overseas markets.
“This funding is not just for our traditional mature source markets such as Australia, New Zealand and the US, but additionally in several important emerging source markets including China and India.
“Our marketing funds for both countries have recently been increased by 75 per cent and 108 per cent respectively.
“This is a reflection and recognition of the increase in numbers from both countries (China and India) which have increased exponentially since Air Pacific commenced its direct services.”