Tourism to Pick Up Soon
The performance of Fiji's tourism industry in the first quarter slumped with hotel bookings dropping by 20 per cent. And Fiji's soft period has resulted in other Pacific Island destinations like Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Cook Islands enjoying high occupancy rates at our expense. But despite raising their concerns over the decrease in visitor arrivals from our major markets like Australia and New Zealand, stakeholders expect the situation to change very soon. While political uncertainty, a tougher drinking law and the recently introduced bed tax have been identified as some of the causes, the Fiji Visitors Bureau and Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism Association believe that the trend would not remain for long. Bureau Chief Executive, Bill Gavoka confirmed that for the months of January to March, the industry had experienced a 'softening trend' in visitor arrivals that has affected hotel occupancy. He said the drop in arrivals could be attributed to the confusion of Fiji's wholesalers with regards to the implementation of the recently introduced bed tax. "While the tax concept was alright, the method in which it was implemented did cause some confusion among wholesalers that made Fiji somewhat difficult to sell. But now that there is more clarity, selling is expected to pick up as Fiji becomes widely available on wholesalers' distribution systems," he said. As for the general election, he said such a process in any country caused some anxiety for tourists. He said after the general election in May, the bureau and stakeholders would have sufficient time to prepare the industry for the peak period, which begins in June. "Once the election is over and confusion over the tax and liquor law is resolved, I am confident that it would be clear sailing for Fiji." (Source: Fiji Times 15/04/2006)
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