Tourism tycoon loses out on sales

Managing director of Rosie Travel Group Tony Whitton during an interview in Nadi. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FILE

ONE of the country’s biggest tourism operators lost $15 million in sales as a result of lost business from COVID-19.

Managing director of Rosie Travel Group Tony Whitton said 25 executives had taken a 10 per cent pay cut in a bid to sustain the business which employs 600 people.

“We have always had the view that things are going to get worse before they get better and I know you have to stay optimistic and work through those things,” he said.

“Our entire executives are on a 10 per cent pay cut as of this month and our staff from 1st April will be on reduced hours so they will have one day off every two weeks.

“It’s not a pay cut for them but they will be able to have a day off.”

Mr Whitton said they employed 600 staff members who were involved with their inbound division and the two luxurious resorts on the Mamanuca Group — Likuliku Lagoon and Malolo Island Resort.

“As of last week we have lost $15m worth of sales as a result of COVID-19 and that’s about 8000 passengers.

“Our view is that we can’t control how the virus is going to operate but we can control how we are going to respond and so the areas we have control over are fixed costs.

“So we have, at least over the past few weeks, been going line by line with all our expenses halting any capital expenditure, deferring any purchase that had to happen and I think the final line is really one that we will only do as a last resort is when we will have to look at the many hard-working families that make up our company in terms of asking them to sacrifice with us and take a salary adjustment.”

The experienced Fijian hotelier said they were also weighing other options and the most important for the company was to ensure their staff’s employment was secure during trying times.

Mr Whitton said 64 per cent of their visitors were from the Australia and New Zealand markets and they would now look at allowing flexible booking packages for them.

Rosie Holidays began as a two-person operation, the brainchild of Mr Whitton’s parents — Roy and Rosie Whitton more than 40 years ago.

From very humble beginnings, Rosie Holidays ventured from tours to rental cars, resorts and event management and has become a multi-million dollar international business servicing more than 150,000 visitors to Fiji annually.

The Rosie Travel Group operates and markets Fiji in more than 30 international markets including Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Russia, France, Spain, China, Taiwan, Japan, India, Singapore, Brazil, Middle East, Greece and Eastern Bloc countries.

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