FACED with limited marketing opportunities for income purposes, the women of Mali Island now breathe a sigh of relief as they have secured new clients for their small businesses.
For many years the women have struggled to earn income from the sale of their homemade crafts.
But since Mali Island was roped into the tourism visitation program to Labasa last year, things have changed for them.
Last week, when the 30 tourists on board Captain Cook Cruises' Reef Endeavour ship visited the island, women from the various villages on the island flocked to Nakawaga to sell their home-made items.
Mats, seashells, necklaces, masi, fans, woven bags, magimagi belts (belts made out of coconut husks), fruits and flowers were arranged on a long table that stood in the village lawn — awaiting the tourists' arrival.
Group leader Veniana Ranadi said tourists had created another income opportunity for the women.
She said they normally travelled to Labasa to sell their handicraft items and some had even gone as far as Savusavu.
"But it is not easy because with the limited income, travelling expenses remain a challenge for us.
"When the tourists visit our island, the women from other villages bring all their handicraft work to Nakawaga to sell to the tourists," Mrs Ranadi said.
She said money earned from the sale helped the women in financially supporting their families. Even though tourists visit every three months, Mrs Ranadi said the income they earned was making a difference in their lives.
Nakawaga village headman Semi Ulunasobu said the women had been greatly assisted by the tourists' visits.
"Our women also have their own projects they like to do in the village so earning money from selling their handicraft items assist them in achieving their goals."