Outcry on Tourism Fiji error

THERE was a social media outcry over a Tourism Fiji post that mistakenly translated the word ‘toilet’ in the itaukei language. The poster depicted in a promotional video for Tourism Fiji had referenced the word toilet as ‘vale ni lotu’ which many itaukei’s took offence to because the phrase referred to a church in the itaukei language.

The post which has since been deleted by Tourism Fiji caused a major uproar online yesterday with many calling for action to be taken against the person behind the update and the video. Tourism Fiji’s official Twitter page spent yesterday responding to users who highlighted the error.

In one of its Twitter responses, Tourism Fiji stated that “content fact-checking was clearly inaccurate and the post has been removed. Apologies for any offence this may have caused.” Meanwhile, on Facebook, political figures used their platforms to condemn the post. Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said she was outraged and disgusted that an organisation like Tourism Fiji would be so careless as to allow someone within its organisation to release this promotional video.

“Obviously no proper vetting or proof reading was done before its release,” she said in a statement. “Is this is a deliberate mistake by Tourism Fiji? How can someone translate “toilet” to “Vale ni Lotu”? “The Vale ni Lotu’ is a sacred location of belief and worship for indigenous Fijians, however, this incident undermines and ridicules its sanctity. “The taxpayers of Fiji give Tourism Fiji $43.5 million a year in grants for marketing and operating expenses and if this is a sample of what we can expect them to produce using our taxpayer dollars then perhaps we should review their allocation in this year’s budget.”

However, Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto said it was obvious the error was not intentional nor malicious.

“It was an error and an apology is forthcoming from Tourism Fiji,” he said. “I do believe that it was not intentional and there was no malice to it, however, we do need to be more aware of what we put out. “We have a local market that we also advertise to that we also need to be mindful of especially when we are marketing our products in the vernacular language.”

In a media statement released yesterday, Tourism Fiji expressed their regret over the error.

“Tourism Fiji would like to apologise for an incorrect translation of an iTaukei word which was posted within a video on our social media accounts that was attempting to showcase every-day Fijian words to our international visitors,” the statement from Tourism Fiji said. “The mistake was due to a mismatch of graphic design and failure of our quality assurance process. “The post was removed this morning (yesterday) by Tourism Fiji’s social media team shortly after the organisation became aware of the mistake. “Tourism Fiji takes full responsibility for the error and sincerely regrets any offence this post may have caused our fellow Fijians. “We take this situation very seriously and are reviewing our internal processes to ensure this does not happen again.”