The latest statistics released by the Department of Trade, Commerce, Tourism and Transport show that Fiji recorded US$337.5 million in tourism revenue in the second quarter of the year.
Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association chief executive Fantasha Lockington said this is not only good news for tourism but also for the Fijian economy.
“We are certainly making every effort to return to pre-COVID levels ahead of the forecast timeframe that economists originally estimated. Tourism has really bounced back, and it’s doing so with gusto, and that speaks volumes for the industry’s focused focus on getting back to where they were (or better!) and their combined efforts to prove we’re very good at it prepared for the recovery in travel We are closely monitoring global trends and visitor travel expectations,” said Ms Lockington.
However, she said the industry remains cautious about the global landscape, particularly the factors that could still negatively impact the global travel industry.
“It’s difficult to shake off a historically cautionary approach that has been developed as part of resilience efforts over decades of confronting many challenges.”
Referring to a forecast for the tourism industry in the coming months, Ms Lockington said Fiji’s tourism hotspots had all reported high booking numbers by the end of the year, meaning increasing numbers of visitors would land in Nadi for the rest three months of the year.
“This should traditionally be the case if our tourism numbers were our pre-COVID off-season, but Fiji currently enjoys ‘preferred travel destination’ status and the peak season, which started earlier than normal, appears to be stretching further into the end of the year . This surprises even our most seasoned staff and our most optimistic expectations, making it seem like any planned annual leave for the likes of us may be on hold for a while. But that’s a good problem because it means employment will also be high for some time to come.”
She said if everyone continues to follow safe travel guidelines and remain vigilant despite the lifting of all of our previous COVID restrictions, we could ensure our industry continues to thrive while remaining vigilant to ensure the safety of guests, employees and communities . Some of the key industries such as construction, hospitality, to name a few are affected by the loss of skilled labor to our neighboring countries.
However, Ms Lockington said there has always been a circular movement of workers from the Pacific and to our nearest neighbors and the rest of the world and the fact that our people are in such demand is something we as a company should be proud of Nation.
“Eventually, this is coming back to us in two ways – through increased referrals as well as some returning enhanced abilities. Both support general economic progress, no matter how small. Coincidentally, our Vuvale partners are also struggling to fill their own skills gaps, created in part by the same issues we found in tourism after reopening – and that means not all have returned to work voluntarily. slower return of foreign travelers and students working part-time in hospitality and agriculture to provide much-needed labor in those industries. In addition, their own economies are being impacted by the circular economy and are losing many skilled workers to countries in the northern hemisphere.”
Hence, she said, the problem was widespread across Fiji, with construction, finance, health, education, ITC, while the movement of Fijian hospitality workers to greener pastures has grown exponentially and stakeholders struggled to constantly replenish training pools. Water and energy supply sectors are also suffering from the brain drain.
“Considering this impact and supporting people’s decision to move to greener pastures, we believe that the larger economies that benefit from upskilling people at the expense of Fijian employers should be more encouraged to reduce local training costs and – Efforts to continuously support financial skills training. We expect this demand for labor in the Pacific Islands to ease to more manageable levels as challenges from our neighbors also ease over the next six months.”
She recognized the impact of understaffing – slower delivery (both products and services), poorer service standards, higher costs and increasing need for greater training spending.
“FHTA works with VET providers to review what they offer. Courses need to be adapted to offer short, more concise options aimed at the informal sector and school leavers. Smarter alternatives include identifying opportunities for tertiary or VET students to study while starting an apprenticeship. Again, not just for the hospitality industry, but for all of the previously mentioned areas.”