Give back to Fiji

The saying you can take a person out of Fiji but you cannot take the Fijian out of a person rings true for young researcher Apisalome Movono.

The Buca, Cakaudrove native’s research has gained international recognition with The Journal of Sustainable Tourism (JoST) willing to publish his research on the impact of tourism on a local community.

Having spent the past three years in Australia trying to complete his PhD in tourism management at the Griffith Institute for Tourism at Griffith University, Mr Movono has the opportunity to work in the Land Down Under. However, the idea of giving back to his country is the motivation and inspiration to return.

“I consider myself a patriot and I believe in the call by our leaders to return to Fiji and give back to her what she has given unto us — a home. As such I have committed myself to the people of Votualalai and to continue research within the Coral Coast, Fiji and the Pacific.

“I have also pledged my support to the development of indigenous communities in line with initiatives and the strategic direction set forth by the Government and the action by NGOs to build resilience and reduce vulnerabilities in Fiji.

“I would also like to acknowledge Apakuki Tasere and the proud people of Votualalai for their support for my study.”

Mr Movono said having his research recognised by an international publication was an achievement in itself.

“This is only a chapter in the actual thesis but is one of four chapters that have been published or are awaiting publication in other reputable journals. What this means is that this research has been peer reviewed by leaders in the field of tourism research and the articles’ acceptance and publication is an indication of the good standard and quality of research output being generated in Fiji.

“These journals only publish new material and ‘new knowledge’ which build up the area of knowledge pertaining to communities involved in tourism. It is a humbling experience to be recognised at the international level.”

He said this was a positive indication of the achievements of Fijians in the international arena.

“I have taken a keen interest and have been a supporter of the direction and leadership of our prime minister being president and co-chair of the upcoming COP23 meeting. As such, I have aligned my research, adhered to our national needs to match the agenda being set by the prime minister.

“Recognition by the JoST provides further justification of the good work Fijians are doing in terms of academic research and I am not alone in this regard. There are also other young researchers in the likes of Dr Naibuka Saune, Dr Jokim Kitoilelei, Amerita Ravuvu and many others who are producing world-class, leading edge research in their respective fields.

“Of course, we as young researchers are only following in the footsteps of Fiji’s many sons and daughters who have paved the way and are already established as key academic leaders in their own right.”

Using the ethnographic methods on his research, involving the researchers’ full immersion in the community, Mr Movono spent time living as a villager, engaging, conversing or “talanoa” and experiencing life as a villager in order to understand their way of life, their issues and challenges.

Mr Movono said understanding the complex and adaptive nature of Pacific Island communities was a growing yet relatively unexplored area in the context of tourism development.

Mr Movono said his study examined how over 40 years of tourism development had led to complex and multi-scale changes in an indigenous Fijian village.

As such, more care and robust discussions needs to happen between stakeholders to ensure benefits are maximised and negatives are reduced in the process of tourism development

“The study establishes that tourism development has brought a range of ecological shifts that have, over time, spurred far-reaching changes within the embedded socio-cultural constructs of the community.

“The development of tourism has created substantial changes in totemic associations, livelihood approaches and traditional knowledge structures within Fijian villages.

“The emergence of internal adaptive cycles, and new behaviours, practices, and values that redefine the cultural landscape is discussed.

“Ultimately the study demonstrates the interconnectivity of nature, society, and culture within indigenous communal systems and asserts that ecological changes introduced in one part of a community stimulate complex, non-linear responses in other elements of the socio-ecological system of a Fijian (iTaukei) village.”

Mr Movono hopes to return to Fiji at the completion of his study next year to share his knowledge.

“I am dedicated to using the skills, experiences and knowledge gained while studying at a world leading university such as Griffith University to further the government’s agenda to develop our communities in a sustainable manner. I stand ready to serve our people in whatever capacity I may be called to and it would be an honour to action the call by the prime minister to work together in shaping Fiji and its communities to be robust, resilient and a better Fiji for all.”

According to Wikipedia The Journal of Sustainable Tourism is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal covering sustainable tourism. It was established in 1993 with Bill Bramwell and Bernard Lane as the founding editors. According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal is ranked fifth out of 44 journals in the category of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism.

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