THE Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association plans to give its members more benefits and engage with them on a frequent basis in its efforts to increase the value of tourism in Fiji.
Association president Dixon Seeto yesterday said they had plans to connect with members in the Northern Division, mainly in Savusavu and Taveuni and providing training for members on better use of resources.
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Mr Seeto said staff development and training would be their major focus in 2018 which would also help develop the tourism industry and improve/increase the industry’s contribution to the economy.
He said the establishment of new hotels recently and the many other hotel projects that had started would provide a match for the increase in visitor arrivals.
With the announcement of new direct flights by Fiji Airways more tourists would travel to Fiji from Japan and China and Mr Seeto says more hotels and resorts would help to cater for the increase in visitor numbers.
Meanwhile the various tourism chapters around the country have been working on their strategic plans to improve services and visitor numbers.
Recent statistics provided by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics showed visitor arrivals for November last year stood at 65,151, a record for the month of November and represented an increase of 4.3 per cent when compared with a year earlier.
Figures showed increases in visitors from Australia, US, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and Continental Europe.
Meanwhile in terms of tourism earnings, the Reserve Bank of Fiji in its quarterly review last year noted that over the first quarter of last year, tourism earnings rose on an annual basis by 10.7 per cent to $377.3 million, compared with a 9.7 per cent growth noted in the same quarter last year.
It said major contributors to these earnings were Australia, New Zealand, US, UK and the Pacific Islands.
Mr Seeto said the FHTA would also connect with the various chapters and synchronise their efforts to increase the tourism industry’s economic contribution.
“We will continue to work with the stakeholders such as the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Tourism Fiji, Fiji Airways and Society of Fiji Travel Associates (SOFTA) to expand and develop the industry.”
Mr Seeto said Fiji’s presidency to COP23 had also given them some major goals to achieve in terms of their environment programs and confirmed that the association was working with the Ministry of Tourism on their environmental programs.
“We will work closely with the Ministry of Tourism on the implementation of its Tourism Master Plan 2020.”
The year 2018 will also see the FHTA work with the Ministry of Economy, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service in terms of recommendations on suitable policies and compliance issues.
Mr Seeto said cruise tourism was also a part of the tourism industry however local day cruises that carried tourists from one destination to another on day cruises were the major players in the local industry.
He said cruise liner visits were also important because even though they stopped for a short while, it gave the cruise line passengers a glimpse of what the local tourist industry was like and what it had to offer them. According to Mr Seeto most of the cruise liner passengers returned later for longer holidays in Fiji.
He said the industry stakeholders had plans to build Fiji as a high quality destination and this was where all the tourism chapters would come together and work towards that goal.