March 1, 2007

Fiji Tourism Figures

Tourism figures

Letter to Editor; - 28 Feb 2007

WHILE the FVB and Tourism Action Group are doing a commendable job, the general optimism published and broadcast widely in the media on Fiji's tourism recovery in Fiji in 2007 should be viewed with some caution.

It seems to be based on visitor numbers rather than on the more useful economic measure of financial yield that is, a visitor's monetary contribution to Fiji.

Painting such an optimistic picture on recovery of visitor numbers could lead to complacency on the industry's part on the one hand and funding reduction to the FVB and TAG by the Government on the other.

As a simple illustration on the fallacy of basing tourism recovery on visitor numbers, let's say a thousand visitors buy a net $500 package each will contribute $500,000. Whereas, a thousand visitors paying the 40 per cent discounted package now offered to the market will earn Fiji only $300,000.

Therefore, to make up the difference in dollar terms ($200,000), we need to attract 667 visitors over and above the one thousand visitor mark. In other words, it is simply not enough just to get back to the visitor numbers experienced in 2005/6.

As per the illustration above, Fiji needs some 66.7 per cent more visitors on the discounted packages just to get back to square one, let alone move forward to the billion-dollar goal.

I, therefore, predict that the full recovery of 2005/06 levels in dollar terms is still some 12 months away, provided of course that TAG's and FVB's concerted efforts continue.

And provided that the Government's policies and actions promote international goodwill that will eventually lead to the complete withdrawal of damaging travel advisories.

As I see it, the only real benefit of the resurgence of comparatively lower yield visitor numbers is more word of mouth advertisement if they return home after a Fiji holiday experience. The other and perhaps more important benefit is the greater ability of tourism employers to re-employ laid-off staff and restore full working hours for others as a direct result of restored visitor numbers.

I'll be very happy indeed if tourism financial yields in the next six to nine months prove me wrong.

Radike Qereqeretabua

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