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Fiji Time: 11:58 PM on Saturday 19 April

/ Front page / Business

Tourism looks north

By Sheetal Singh
Friday, June 05, 2009

Fiji should maintain its unique authentic cultural values to capture tourists from the Asian market, especially China.

Beijing-based Pacific Islands Forum Trade Office representative spoke to South Pacific suggested Pacific Island nations should come under one umbrella to be known as the South Pacific to be recognised by the Chinese tourists.

"It is hard for Chinese tourist to locate the countries individually, but to entice them we need to market the whole of the South Pacific since we have one common factor, that is our uniqueness through the various cultures heritage," he said.

Identifying some of the factors hindering Chinese tourist opting to the South Pacific rather then other global destinations, Mr Savou said there were some logistical problems at hand.

"If a tourist was to come to Fiji, the person would have to get connecting flights to Fiji that will require additional visas for the transiting countries whereas this is not the case for some Pacific nations," he said.

"Another issue in question is the currency exchange. Only Australia has a Chinese RMB currency exchange, whereas if people had to travel to the Pacific Island nations they either have to convert their RMB to US dollars or Australian dollars.

"It will cost one traveller out of China close to $15,000 to $20,000 for a holiday in the South Pacific. So what tourist operators should look at is providing these visitors a 'value for their money' while in your country."

China predicts close to 100 million outbound tourists by 2020, of which one million are forecast to travel to the Southern Hemisphere.