My colleague Fantasha Lockington penned a current story for the Fiji Occasions which we have now reprinted under. Fantasha is CEO of the Fiji Lodge and Tourism Affiliation, which is on the cusp of “re-inaugurating” the org’s annual tourism convention, heretofore delayed by Covid over the previous few years.
The theme of the occasion is “Rethinking Tourism”. Or one might say…it’s all about authenticity…
The convention, dubbed Tourism Talanoa, will likely be held on the Sheraton Fiji Golf & Seaside resort on the 27-28 of this month and will likely be a who’s who of the “Fiji Tourism Plant”. Hoteliers, brokers, wholesalers, authorities individuals and all the opposite “ordinary suspects” will likely be there to chop offers, meet mates and maybe extra importantly, look at the perplexing state of post-Covid tourism.
The angst is palpable.
Is Covid going smack us once more? What concerning the warfare in Ukraine? What about inflation, the value of oil and the specter of a world large recession?
There are numerous questions and Fantasha frames them cogently.
“With all the teachings we’ve learnt this 12 months since our reopening, are we as an business ready for what the following few years have in retailer for us, and what does the brand new model of tourism appear to be?”
It’s a question that reverberates all the way in which to Honolulu.
Again right here (as in Fiji) tourism appears to be on observe in the meanwhile. We’re nonetheless lacking the Japanese however they are going to be on their method. Fortunately the U.S. Mainland has made up for any shortfall from Asia. The quick time period appears to be like advantageous, however there’s a caveat. In Hawaii the natives are a bit stressed. They don’t seem to be all the time so completely satisfied to see guests.
That is the place we in Hawaii differ from Fiji.
Hawaii has a markedly completely different colonial/historic expertise than Fiji. Many locals, although their jobs depend upon it, are ambivalent on the thousands and thousands of tourists (about 10 million got here in 2019) who wash up on our shores yearly. Fiji residents, alternatively, had a extra benign expertise with the Brits. It wasn’t good however they nonetheless have their land and their tradition. Additionally they haven’t skilled the identical inflow of “vulagi” (company) that we in Hawaii have needed to deal with.
The large numbers of tourists to Hawaii has taken its toll. The query vacationers usually pose is “what occurred to the aloha spirit?” In Fiji, the equal of the “aloha spirit” may be very a lot alive. It didn’t go anyplace and that’s a giant attraction.
Locals genuinely welcome guests and vulagi reply by coming again 12 months after 12 months.
Sure, it’s all about authenticity
So what I do I see in my crystal ball?
I’m not knowledgeable psychic however I imagine authenticity will likely be probably the most essential elements of tourism in years to return. Guests need the “actual deal”. Native tradition, native artwork, native meals (grown in Fiji) and actual individuals, with actual smiles.
That’s the place Fiji shines.
Case and level: In Hawaii guests flock to Lahaina, based as a whaling port on Maui. It’s a pleasant city however it’s gentrified into slick model of Disneyworld. It’s about as genuine as a $20 Rolex. In Fiji, in contrast, there nonetheless is an genuine, nineteenth century whaling port (Levuka) that occurs to be a UNESCO World Heritage website.
You may nonetheless go to these previous buildings, have a beer in a 150 12 months previous non-public membership and chances are high, there gained’t even be that many vacationers round.
I’ll make a second case for Fiji.
On September fifteenth the Wall Avenue Journal printed a narrative entitled “A Fijian Island That Turns Guests Into Expats”. The “Fijian Island” the piece was referring to is Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest, and residential to Savusavu, an previous plantation city that reeks of allure.
Right here’s an excerpt from the WSJ piece by Tom Downey, that claims all of it:
“Whereas Aussie and Kiwi households on faculty breaks gravitate to the massive worldwide chain
inns on Viti Levu, Fiji’s primary island, Savusavu attracts a a lot bigger proportion of
Individuals, usually right here on longer holidays. One in every of this area’s attracts is that Savusavu’s
properties are, to this point, all smaller, impartial inns, not chains. One night time at my lodge bar I sat subsequent to 2 Floridians who normally journey to Hawaii however determined to trip in Fiji this 12 months. “Savusavu feels untouched, in all probability how Hawaii felt 100 years in the past,” the person mentioned to me.”
Mr. Downey makes my level.
Nothing incorrect with the upmarket properties–the Wakayas, the Vomos and their ilk. Identical with Denarau, which shares Waikiki’s attribute as an earnings producing engine.
Who wouldn’t wish to spend just a few days in a 5-star property and luxuriate?
That mentioned, I think there are fairly just a few individuals, the form of of us who learn the Wall Avenue Journal or the Monetary Occasions and might afford a 5-star property could also be extra concerned about vacation spot that’s slightly extra unconventional and intimate. These are individuals which might be effectively educated, effectively traveled and curious concerning the world. They admire farm-to-table and fusion delicacies however they’re additionally into historical past and tradition.
In brief individuals need greater than turquoise water, sand and palm timber.
In researching my newest ebook, Suva A Historical past and Information I used to be instructed each by my native contributors and an govt at Tourism Fiji, that heritage and tradition have turn out to be extra of a spotlight, particularly with European guests. I believe they’re appropriate.
Whether or not it’s watching Vou, Fiji’s world class dance troupe on Denarau; visiting heritage buildings such because the Borron Home in Suva or viewing an artwork masterpiece; akin to Jean Charlot’s well-known “Black Christ” fresco in Ra, Fiji provides a variety of sights for the subtle traveler.
That mentioned, extra prosaic experiences that join the customer with the tradition might be simply as rewarding.
For instance in Savusavu you may watch a villager boil her household’s dinner in a volcanic scorching spring, go to a close-by plantation to see how artisanal cleaning soap is made out of “residence grown” copra or study from a neighborhood Vuniwai (conventional healer) the learn how to use medicinal crops.
Assembly native individuals and connecting with the tradition is extra more likely to occur in a group like Savusavu or Levuka than at a resort complicated.
The upshot: Guests have the perfect of all worlds in a spot like Vanua Levu which along with its nice properties is, as Mr. Downey’s article notes, extra like Hawaii was “100 years in the past”.
Maybe you might say the way forward for tourism in Fiji is inextricably tied to its previous.
In Fiji, which nonetheless owns its wealthy tradition, that is one thing to have a good time.
You may learn Fantasha’s story right here…
There’s nothing just like the mom of all challenges to pressure you to evaluate the way you do what you do. And for governments, industries, and companies world wide, this has meant dusting off methods and reframing them with a post-pandemic lens contemplating that many issues have modified together with client behaviour, the large spectrum of digital options accessible and the starvation for on-line experiences influencing on a regular basis selections.
Globally, tourism additionally modified as soon as the expertise of being compelled to remain nonetheless (or in the identical place) resulted in individuals’s enlightenment and appreciation for nature and the human potential to destroy or protect it.
Therefore the reviewing or rethinking of tourism, the place as an business we have now the inherent capability to be a pacesetter in rebuilding again sustainably and rigorously.
This week noticed the celebration of Worldwide World Tourism Day on September 27.
The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) initiated World Tourism Day celebrations in 1980 and this was to advertise consciousness of the worth of tourism amongst all people and communities worldwide.
Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA (Printed within the Fiji Occasions on 29 September 2022)
Rob Kay has simply printed a revised version of Suva, A Historical past and Information and covers Fiji in FijiGuide.com