Tourism continues to buoy Fiji’s economy, but inflation still 5.2%

The Reserve Bank of Fiji says the country’s economy continues to buck international trends on the back of a “marked recovery in tourism.”

In November 2022, more than 560,700 international visitors arrived in Fiji, which is 68.3% of arrivals in November 2019, before the pandemic.

“The higher turnout in visitors together with increased spending has also boosted tourism receipts to FJ$1.32 million”, around 98% for the same period in 2019.

In other sectors, sugar production was up 17% after two straight years of decline. There was also an increase in sawn timber and mahogany production, although woodchip production declined by 40% in November.

There has also been an increase in income tax revenue (up 16%), inward remittances (up 21.7%) and new lending for consumption (up 37,9%) for the year to November.

However, the RBF says the recent general election and higher building material prices has seen continued subdued investment activity, although “forward looking indicators point towards some optimism evident through increases in banks’ new lending for investment purposes (26.2%) in the year to November and the number (38.3%) and value (101.5%) of building permits issued for the first half of the year.”

The need for tourism workers has driven an increase in jobs advertised, although vacancies are still sitting at only around 54% of comparable November 2019 levels.

The cost of living continues to be a concern. The annual inflation rate was 5.2% in November- driven primarily by higher good and fuel prices.

The Reserve Bank says continued risks to Fiji’s financial outlook emanate from further tightening in the US dollar, Russia-Ukraine tensions and more frequent commodity price shocks.