By James Wilkinson
Tourism Fiji remains confident of inbound numbers rising in 2009 despite Australian arrivals falling 29 per cent in the first two months of the year.
Hot spot: Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island
Figures released by Tourism Fiji this week show 23,285 Australians visited the South Pacific nation in January and February as opposed to 32,244 in the previous year.
Tourism Fiji regional director – Australia Paresh Pant said the global economic downturn combined with Fiji’s January floods were to blame for the drop-off in the first two months of 2009.
But he said he was confident of a marked increase in visitor arrivals over the coming months following the $1 million ‘StimulateMe’ marketing campaign actioned across Australia during March.
Pant added that the Reserve Bank of Fiji’s recent decision to devalue the Fiji Dollar by 20 per cent also had the potential to boost visitors from budget conscious Australian travellers.
“Added to the large number of attractively priced Fiji holiday now being offered on a regular basis in the market, the devaluation means there has never been a better time for Australians to holiday in Fiji,” he said.
When SpiceNews visited Fiji in mid-February, many major hotels were running occupancies around the 20 per cent mark. But hoteliers were upbeat about inbound arrival numbers lifting by mid-year due to increased Pacific Blue services from Australia.
In June, Pacific Blue will inaugurate new twice-weekly direct Pacific Blue flights from Adelaide and Melbourne to Nadi – with the Adelaide-Nadi marking the first time Fiji has ever had a direct flight from the South Australian capital.
The new flights increases capacity into Fiji by 720 seats per week in each direction and have been welcomed by hoteliers on both the leisure and MICE fronts.
“Air capacity is indeed critical to Fiji as it is to any leisure destination,” said Radisson Resort Fiji Denarau Island general manager, Justin Phillips.
“The increase of flights by Pacific Blue is cementing not only their commitment to the destination but also indicates the demand from the consumer, which inevitably brings competition and reduced fares to the market.”
Pacific Blue’s new direct flights to Nadi from Adelaide and Melbourne commence on June 4.