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His story of everything Fijian

Luke Rawalai
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

HIS passion for meeting people has seen 50-year-old Simione Regu become the most desired tour guide to the amazing waterfalls of Lavena on the north end of Taveuni.

Mr Regu is the most sought after tour guide at the Lavena Coastal Work tours which attracts tourists from hotels around the country.

The outspoken father of five, who is a native of Lavena, said he began working as a tour guide in 1998.

"Now I have only selected resorts that I work with exclusively for tour guide purposes," he said.

"Since I have a passion for meeting people, tour guiding is another way of coming face to face with real people with different experiences," he said.

"As part of my work I tell people about the Lavena nature walk. But to me, what I tell them is a story of Fiji of everything that is Fijian.

"To talk to foreigners about our trees, flowers, plants and their uses, stories related to sites that we meet along the walk is to share with them something about us indigenous Fijians because the land is very much part of our culture."

Mr Regu can have as many as 50 visitors in a day taking them to the various waterfalls that they would like to visit.

"A day's tour includes pit stops at Wainibau, Wainiva'aca and Savu Leveavonu waterfall depending on the wishes of the tourists that I take," he said.

"In 1993 after our elders were visited by Korean investors who planned to log the forest, our elders rejected their offer and instead chose to turn the park into a nature reserve as they were thinking about the future generation of the vanua o Bouma.

"The vanua o Bouma comprises the villages of Vidawa, Korovou, Lavena and Waitabu.

"It was then that the villagers reached out and successfully partnered with the New Zealand Government and the Ministry of Forests in Fiji to set up a portion of the land for reservation and to use it for the purpose of eco-tourism."

Mr Regu said a percentage of the money derived from the use of the park by tourists was channelled into projects earmarked to benefit the vanua o Bouma.

"The vanua's trust fund has an education, vanua and accounts where money is diverted into these accounts to fund any work to do with their administration," he said.

"However tour guides are chosen from the village to take visitors across a portion of the reserved land earmarked for the eco-tourism project.

"The project itself has become a symbol of the village and its aspirations to provide a better future for the children of the village, our future.

"Over the years people like me have developed a reputation with tourists and we chose special selected tour groups to take across the park."

Mr Regu said the secret to his success as a tour guide was sharing the bula spirit which every iTaukei individual is born with.

"One does not have to search for it or learn about this spirit it is ever present in our smile, the way we talk and the way we treat strangers to our homes and villages," he said.

"That is why our Fijian hospitality is one that is known throughout the world and it has no rival.

"I believe that the marketing of the tourism industry to the outside world is dependent on every individual Fijian because we are Fiji.

"I believe that people like us come in direct contact with tourists while the rest of the country has an influence on their stay indirectly one way or another."

Mr Regu said he would continue telling the stories of Bouma to foreigners who visited the park because it was the story about Fiji and its people.

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