Editorial comment – Positive growth in tourism

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

It is good to know that the tourism sector is projected to grow to a $3 billion industry this year as markets in Asia open up and new markets, including Canada, come on board.

It is exciting news! Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica shared this development with stakeholders from the public and private sector who were part of the inaugural Fiji Tourism Investment Summit 2023 on Denarau in Nadi yesterday. By the end of 2024, he said, up to 1 million tourists are anticipated to visit our country.

Fiji, he said, needed more resort and hotel investments to keep up with the demand and take advantage of the increased interest in the country.

He revealed a total of 262 projects were implemented from 2007 to 2020 with investment in the tourism sector valued at around $1.6 billion.

Tourism, the minister said, was the main driver of demand for accommodation in Fiji.

Our attraction, he said, included our warm tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and rich culture.

The accommodation sector in Fiji was highly competitive. With the decline in our sugar earnings, the tourism industry has contributed significantly to our economy and stands out as our largest foreign exchange earner, as the minister highlighted, contributing around 40 per cent of Fiji’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Post pandemic, we learn, Fiji experienced a great recovery where the demand for tourism progressively superseded 2019 levels and last year alone, Fiji received 636,312 visitors which was a recovery of 71 per cent.

Growth in tourism figures is welcomed and should open up investment opportunities.

There are positive vibes, and there is excitement growing in the industry.

We know that there are over 400 properties that provide approximately 14,000 rooms for the industry. In the face of that, the minister informed stakeholders and government representatives that Fiji needs a pipeline of new sustainable projects to meet demand and capitalise on the growing interest from tourists in the country.

They were reminded about the need to safeguard shared commitments to build a more sustainable tourism industry — one that was resilient, inclusive and lucrative for all stakeholders and most importantly landowners.

We are happy with developments and the positive forecast.

Understandably one of our challenges would be to provide a safe place for our visitors. That will mean being engaged. It will mean taking ownership of our environment for instance.

We are friendly people. It is also a selling point aside from the other things that make our country a great place to visit and live in.

But lest we forget, we keep getting back to diversification and growth in other sectors.

We are talking about the importance of development in agriculture for instance, and look up to the powers that be to initiate discussions and promote ideas that will empower stakeholders.

While we acknowledge the growth in tourism which is very important for our nation, we also look forward to more engagement from those tasked to promote our other sectors.

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