BEING a foreigner in Fiji to start business for the first time, it was pivotal to develop a relationship with the local business community, which is exactly what he did and today, runs one of the most successful ports in the country.
Nigel Skeggs owner of Port Denarau Marina widely known as the place for the super yachts, began with as little as six staff members when he arrived four years ago. Today business has grown to a 34 staff member team, and also uses the service of cleaners, gardeners etc which adds an additional eight jobs.
Mr Skeggs said one contributing factors to the business growing success was joining the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council that offered a common ground for businesses like his to grow and assist both Fiji and NZ.
"Partly due to my heritage as a Kiwi to begin with, being new to Fiji this gave me a personal opportunity to meet other members of the business community in Fiji and develop relationships for support," he said.
"Doing business in Fiji is very different from many other countries and being able to ask for advice, compare experiences and assist one another is invaluable. The great part about the council is the diverse range of businesses that are members and the indispensable knowledge that is held and shared amongst the group.
Mr Skeggs says the council is about creating relationships and conversation between members and this has led to a great support network for advice and specific relationship building in Fiji and NZ.
The council, he says also gives us the opportunity to work with the NZ government. "There are a lot on synergies between Fiji and NZ when it comes to nautical tourism and we are partners rather than competitors. This has resulted in support from NZ government through NZ Trade and Enterprise, and in particular Michael Greenslade, by including Fiji and the Marina in NZ initiatives such as the marine shows during the Rugby World Cup last year.
"This year we hope to eclipse the numbers of last year which saw the arrival of 591 yachts under 80 feet and 37 super yachts". Port Denarau Marina was purchased by the current owners, Skeggs Group from NZ, in 1999. Overall this was an investment in excess of $12 million.
He said this was the hub for nautical domestic tourism with 720,000 passengers transiting through the passenger terminal in 2011. These are either tourists heading out to various resorts in the Mamanuca and Yasawa or heading out on one of the many varied daytrips available from our customers. Visiting yachts and super yachts help contribute to the economy.
The yachting tourism market is worth in excess of FJ$33 million per annum and these are very conservative figures in what is a fast expanding market. This money is spread throughout the greater economy and is also resulting in the formation and growth of several yachting support companies.