TOURISM is a people-based service industry with more than 70,000 families dependent on it, hence the role of the people who first come into contact with our visitors cannot be over-emphasised.
This is the view of leading local tourism entrepreneur, Tony Whitton.
The owner and managing director of the Rosie Holidays group told airport workers on Wednesday that first impressions could be a significant catalyst to Fiji's growing tourism industry.
Speaking at the inaugural Fijian Hosts Awards ceremony, he told airport workers they were "in a unique position".
"As workers here at the Nadi International Airport, you are the first impression when international visitors arrive and you're also the last people that travellers interact with and, in this regard, you're also the last impression of Fiji.
"And the success of our tourism industry is directly connected to how you interact with our guests," he said.
Mr Whitton reminded the airport senior staff of their importance to the national economy.
"Every international visitor, returning friends and relatives will come through these gates and the service you deliver and what you represent will determine if our industry will grow and prosper and will determine what our country and what we represent will grow and prosper equally.
"A brand is determined by a thousand different gestures — how our visitors are welcomed, how they are directed to services, your interaction with them, your hospitality, your kindness, your empathy — it all starts here."