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Fiji’s tourist numbers soar

Strong growth in China, India markets

Strong growth in the emerging source markets of China and India should see increases in tourist numbers in Fiji in the new year. That’s the prediction of Tourism Fiji’s 2015 marketing plan at its reveal before industry players last October. TF’s acting CEO Ken Freer says total visit arrivals in the new year is projected to be 714,000, a five per cent increase from the projected 2014 figure. While the Reserve Bank of Fiji estimated tourist arrivals this year would reach 675,000, Freer says they hope to surpass this projection by end of this month.

Tourist arrivals of 680,000 are now possible, Freer told tourism stakeholders. To the 12 months to September 2014, visitor arrivals stood at 678,527. All the country’s major source markets saw growth in this period, mainly Australia, New Zealand, North America, China, South Korea and Continental Europe. Declines were recorded in the markets of Canada and the UK. China and New Zealand – due to increase flight frequency next year by the national airline Fiji Airways – could drive up the 2015 arrival figures. Tourism Fiji according to Freer is also seeking to use length of stay to measure the impact of tourists in Fiji’s economy.

This he said is a better and more realistic measurement since the longer tourists stay in the country, the more spending they would make. No such data is available to the tourism body beyond 2013. “Our marketing plan for 2015 would focus on avoiding waste and maximising return,” said Freer. “This we will apply both in our core (Australia, New Zealand and North America) markets, as well as in our emerging markets (China, India and Russia).”

The opening of a Tourism Fiji office in Shanghai, China, will boost Fiji’s presence in the outbound travel market, and a lot of emphasis will be directed towards market research. Part of the strategy is to move away from traditional advertising to more of public relations. More and more, Tourism Fiji will invite overseas-based travel writers on media familiarisation tours of Fiji, instead of buying ad space in mainstream newspapers or airtime on television.

On Fiji Tourism’s marketing slogan – ‘Fijiwhere happiness finds you,’ the challenge for 2015 is to ensure tourists meet happiness in the four main areas of place, people, experience and connection. In the seminars that followed the unveiling of Tourism Fiji’s marketing plan, some industry players in Fiji raised their concerns about high airfares and plane seat availability.

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