Tourism rakes in $1.3b

THE tourism industry is the largest foreign exchange earner in the country, raking in $1.3billion last year.

Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto, during the opening of the 2015 Budget Forum in Suva yesterday, said the tourism industry was also the largest employer with the largest potential for investment in the future.

Mr Seeto said the tourism industry earned $1.3b on direct foreign exchange earnings but if people took into account some indirect earnings it would probably double the figure.

He said visitor arrivals in Fiji on June 14 this year recorded 308,000 compared to 297,000 for the same period last year and the tourism industry’s employment numbers was more than 50,000 direct and indirect.

“We need a lot of visitors coming into Fiji and I think we can also look at necessary tourism services so that we can get our visitors to stay longer in Fiji and also spend more money,” Mr Seeto said.

“At the end of the day it’s not about the number of tourists coming in, it’s actually about how long they stay for and how much they spend.

“The tourism industry has a lot of natural attributes in terms of the friendliness of the people, the great geography and we need to offer more to our visitors so they will be interested to visit again.

“Amongst the satisfaction rating we are among the highest in the world.”

Mr Seeto said he had great confidence in the continued development of the industry.

“We have great support from government and we have some good incentives and initiatives put in place by government to encourage development of the tourism industry through hotels,” he said.

“What we expect and what we hope to have in terms of the budget is the continued support to Tourism Fiji and I think for over a few years now they have been allocating $23.5million for marketing.”

“I think the marketing budget needs to be relooked at because we are now trying to address many more markets such as China, India, apart from our traditional market of Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Northern America, so we have a lot of work to do.”

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