Editorial comment | Positive vibes for tourism

Tourists from the cruise ship Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas enjoy their day out in Lautoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

It is encouraging to note that tourism operators have expressed delight at the reassurance by Deputy Prime Minister and Tourism Minister Viliame Gavoka that there will be no drastic changes in the upcoming budget to disrupt tourism recovery.

Today we learn from industry icon Tony Whitton that the news was reassuring for a sector that had just bounced back from the pandemic and was doing quite well to assist in the growth of the local economy.

He believes the industry is set to exceed tax revenue receipts budgeted by Government for this fiscal year.

He said there were four components to a Fiji holiday: the airfare, the hotel room rate, the cost of food and beverage, and finally the cost of tours and excursions for international visitors.

“At the present time with the exchange rate, Fiji is in a sweet spot and research backs this up,” he noted.

While there were positive signs from Australia and New Zealand, and especially with data on overall experience satisfaction of tourists when they visited Fiji, he warned there were storm clouds looming in key markets with some commentators forecasting possible recessions.

However, in the face of that, the good news is that with a vibrant tourism industry, as opposed to the years at the height of the pandemic, there are opportunities for growth.

“We have a lot of good news to share with all tourism jobs restored and in fact we are currently experiencing many vacancies and shortages,” he noted.

With tourism arrivals forecasted to eclipse the 2019 record, this can only improve. In January we reported that tourism receipts stood at $1,320.6 million for December last year.

This was boosted by higher turnout in visitors with increased spending. According to the Reserve Bank of Fiji, December tourism receipts were about 98 per cent for the same period in 2019.

The central bank, in its December economic review, stated the domestic economy was making strides through the marked recovery in tourism when compared with the international economy which was in shifting sands throughout the year.

The influx of visitors up to November totalled 560,732, reaching 68.3 per cent of the comparable 2019 period.

Any boost in numbers would obviously reflect positively on many industries.

We are talking about air capacity, hotel occupancy, the transport industry, suppliers for hotels and resorts, and traditional art and craft to name a few. A resurgence in hotel occupancy rates would have a positive roll-on impact in terms of jobs.

There is optimism looking to the future. That means every Fijian should be working together for the betterment of an industry that provides thousands of jobs and a boost to the economy.

We have said this before, tourists want a safe and stable environment. They want to feel secure on holiday.

They want to be able to enjoy themselves doing things they have planned for. They have expectations. Our challenge is fulfilling these expectations.

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