Editorial comment – Growing our numbers

Australian tourists arrive at the Nadi International Airport on the first flight out of Sydney as Fiji opens its International border. Picture: REINAL CHAND

The revelation that Fiji has received 167,000 international guests since borders reopened in December last year is interesting.

It does say a lot for the effort put into attracting tourists here. It is a reflection of how work is going and how those behind the scenes are actually pitching in to lay the base for this to happen.

Yes, it is interesting when we consider how the nation stared at a blankwall when the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit us in April last year.

We also note how various nations are addressing the COVID-19 issue.

We have to lay it on the table though because far too many people were negatively impacted by the turn of events right here.

Far too many Fijians lost their jobs and no matter how we try and get over that, the impact of what happened is still been felt in many households, especially in the Western Division.

It makes sense then that there will be a sense of hope and confidence when such figures are raised. They add value to the work going on to keep raising our figures, and nurturing the base to ensure there is consistency in all that we are doing to attract visitors.

As Tourism Fiji chief executive officer Brent Hill pointed out, we recorded 47,813 arrivals in May, the highest monthly arrivals since December 2021, and 46,680 guests arrived in April. Our report today points out how Mr Hill took to social media to share the news.

He said the numbers indicated Fiji was ahead of forecast and continued to track well towards its target. Mr Hill said the surge in tourist arrivals was significant because it continued to create jobs for Fijians and helped in the quick recovery of the tourism sector.

He reckons the figures are quite strong.

“We are extremely pleased to have pushed well past our original forecasts and are well on track towards our goals outlined in the corporate plan, unveiled in May.

“It is fantastic to see the numbers continuing to grow. We are so pleased with our tourism industry.”

Tourism Fiji, he noted, had been working “exceptionally hard” with partners around the world to market and grow awareness about Fiji, but it was very much a team effort — national carrier Fiji Airways, and hotel and tourism trade partners.

He noted TV programs such as Sunrise in Australia suggesting Fiji was the number one destination for 2022 for Australians.

Whatever your take is on the figures, one thing is certain, tourists are coming. That means the base, for employment opportunities, is growing.

That can only be good for us all. It sets connected industries moving and the domestic economy churning.

That sets the stage for a slow shift in fortunes for those who are set to gain directly and indirectly. And that is good for the nation. Our challenge is now to grow the numbers. That will mean taking ownership of the industry and ensuring we do everything needed to grow it.

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