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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