Travel agents and consumers can expect to see Fiji in the news this year, as the country seeks
to build visitation from the United
States. The Fiji Islands Visitors Bureau
will continue to focus its resources in the U.S.
on markets with promise, says Ili Matatolu, who was posted to Los
Angeles earlier this year as regional director, the Americas, for
the bureau. Effects thus far in the U.S. following last year's
political situation have been very minimal, Matatolu notes. "Having said
that, we have a lot of work to do to make sure new bookings as well as future
In the U.S.
this means a focus on the key
market, and selective work in the East Coast and other markets. Retailers can
expect to benefit from continued outreach by the bureau. "We need to make
sure generation of leads is developed a lot further," Matatolu says.
"We want to make sure our program is relevant to agents' needs, both
home-based and frontline."
The bureau's Matai destination-specialist program for
retailers is continuing, and agents can look forward to a revised, revamped web
site by the end of the month. Matatolu is a veteran with the bureau, with
previous postings in both Australia
She shared targets and outlooks in a wide-ranging conversation with Travel
This year, the bureau is seeking to grow spending by U.S. travelers to F$120 million, up from F$100
million last year—$60 million and $50 million U.S., respectively. Also contributing
to the country's tourism efforts is the Tourism Action Group, which was
reactivated by Viliame (Bill) Gavoka, chief executive of the bureau. The
group's goals include restoring confidence in the tourism industry and in Fiji as a
destination, starting recovery efforts, increasing arrivals and speaking in a
Marketing is proceeding in three phases, Matatolu explains.
The first concentrated on Fiji's
top two inbound markets, Australia
and New Zealand;
both were strongly affected. The second phase adds such long-haul markets as
the U.S., the U.K., Europe, Japan
and South Korea.
And the third phase, which is anticipated by the arrival of June and peak
travel season, is a return to as normal a year as possible. The government has
budgeted an additional F$3.6 million.
Among the programs on tap is the Fiji Islands Visitors
Bureau's new "Fiji Me" global marketing campaign launching in North America this month. The campaign combines messaging
to consumers with free DVDs for retailers.
Also helping build the buzz is the debut earlier this month
of "Survivor Fiji";
the reality-TV show spent three months in Fiji filming the show's 14th
season. Also hitting the marketplace is a slate of "Fiji Better Than
Ever" packages and promotions developed by a number of the country's
Other news of interest to agents include the start in April
of a codeshare pact between Air Pacific and Air New Zealand and an ongoing
increase in lodging that will raise inventory past the 8,300 rooms available in
2006 to more than 10,200 that will be available by the end of this year. Agent
liaison is Jese Naka, regional coordinator of the Fiji Matai Specialist
Program. Contact him at 310-568-1616 or [email protected]. Visit www.fijime.com.