Oct 18, 2017 Last Updated 12:43 AM, Oct 5, 2017

Killing the golden goose

High taxes threaten tourism

HIGH taxes and service charges have pushed Fiji’s major revenue generator into the more expensive destinations for tourists. With VAT increasing from 5 to 10 per cent and Service Turnover Tax reducing from 10 to six per cent and Departure Taxes at $200 per passenger, what was once a popular choice for New Zealanders and Australians may soon be out of reach for families.

And families are the key to the success of tourism in Fiji. Hoteliers have been forced to find creative ways to sell their destination and product in a very competitive market where technology has had a major impact on how companies reaching out to their customers.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association has lobbied government not to tax the only industry that it claims actively and positively addresses environmental issues through pro-active self-funded programs. During a media workshop organized by the association in Suva last month, participants discussed the need to reduce the tax levied on the industry. Instead, tourism operators want the same taxes spread across industries which impacted the environment. These taxes would be collected and used to fund environment protection programs.

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Time to walk the talk

Conference to dialogue on tourism issues

In a bid to provide a regional platform for dialogue on matters of interest in international and regional tourism, the first ever Pacific Tourism Insights Conference (PTIC) will convene in Vanuatu next month. Through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the conference is a joint collaboration between the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) The one-day conference will bring together regional and international thinkers, professionals and leading reputable companies such as Trip Advisor, BBC Worldwide Asia and other reputable organisations. Priya Chand of Islands Business talks to SPTO chief executive officer Christopher Cocker for get an insight on the inaugural conference and other tourism-related matters in the region.

IB: What is the main purpose of the inaugural Pacific Tourism Insights Conference in Vanuatu?

COCKER: IT will be very important for us to make contact and strengthen our existing relationship with PATA which has tremendous Asian connections. A partnership between PATA and the SPTO would have enormous potential for possible entry of the Pacific into the Asian market for our regional destinations. There’s also the opportunity at this event to look at developments in the Asian market and more importantly around the globe in the area of tourism.

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Beauty with purpose

Miss World Fiji to use global pageant to spread divine word

FULL-TIME missionary and university science graduate Nanise Rainima will represent Fiji at this year’s Miss World Pageant to be staged in China in November. There are three things on her mind: to spread the word about her faith, to promote her culture, and to create awareness about climate change.

The 25-year old lass from Nakelo, Tailevu has a distinguishing feature that makes her stand out. The “buiniga” or traditional Fijian afro hairstyle that she wears with pride. “It’s the true epitome of Fijian beauty,” she says. Nanise will be the first indigenous woman to represent Fiji at the global event. Previous contestants have either been part-European or Indian with long straight hair.

She calls it a blessing having the “buiniga” but reaction on social media from outside Fiji has not been receptive. However, she is determined to fully experience what the pageant has to offer, both the negative and positive. “I’m fully aware of what I’m getting myself into and I’m ready.” It’s not usual for a missionary with a strong evangelical church background to be entering pageants. But this is nothing new to Nanise.

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Rosie’s legacy lives on

WHAT started off with only two drivers and two staff members is now recognised as Fiji’s best travel company employing more than 600 people. Meet Rosie Whitton, who started her business - Rosies Tours - in 1974, at a time when aviation and tourism industry recorded a decline in visitor arrivals to our shores.

During her time at Hunts Travel, Rosie said her biggest challenge was juggling naps in-between flight arrivals. “Those days, Nadi Airport was a refuelling stop for all the flights crossing the Pacific.” Fiji was a mandatory stopover for San Francisco-Sydney flights, Hawaii and America at the time. It was during this time that Rosie met Roy Whitton, an Australian who was sent by Qantas to manage its operations in Fiji in the mid 1960s.

During the first half of the ‘60s, Nadi served as a key airport for the transfer of passengers from Auckland’s Whenuapai Airport, which could only take turboprop and piston aircraft. Passengers flew from Auckland to Nadi on turboprops and piston-engine airplanes, and were transferred on to the new McDonnell Douglas DC-8 and Boeing 707 jets bound for North America and Europe. But the enthusiastic struggling single mother of one accepted the challenge, with no cash and no people to work with, ventured into the tourism industry with the ability to improve the services and economy well-being.

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Sevens sports tourism

Rugby, holiday on the other side

IF you were to travel by boat for more than ten hours to watch a rugby 7s tournament, you probably still reeling from Fiji’s Olympic medal win and just can’t get enough of it. But if you came from the other side of the world as far away as Holland, then the deed is synonymous with the Fijian word Tiliva, meaning “on the other side”. Erik Schiphorst with his wife and two children are holidaying in Fiji and were spectators at last month’s inaugural Tiliva Sevens on Kadavu Island.

“I know that Fiji is very good at rugby sevens. They are the World Champion and Olympic Champion,” the ecstatic Dutch said. Sports tourism is going rural. Organizers of the Tiliva 7s are riding on the wave created by the global success of the national men’s sevens team.

The plan is to bring the limelight of the sevens game to the island, and showcase the talent of players there that don’t get the chance to play in tournaments mostly held in the urban centres on the main island Viti Levu. Tournament director Alipate Nakasava told the ABC Pacific Beat program Kadavu has produced national sevens stars like Sireli Naqelevuki, Setareki Tawake, Sela Gutugutuwai and Leone Nakarawa.

“We want to breed future national rugby players from this tournament since it’s very hard for our boys to go to Viti Levu because of travelling costs and other things,” he said. Inter-island ferries make the rounds to Kadavu once a week and the 10-hour journey is mostly at night.

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