Brent Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Fiji brings over 16 years of experience and is passionate about working in the travel and tourism industry. His dynamic expertise along with his implausible ideas will open diverse opportunities for Fiji to market itself as an attractive, aspirational and safe destination.
- What is the strategy that you’re trying to push ahead when tourism opens in Fiji?
Our initial focus and strategy is working towards a re-opening of borders by the end of 2021. Currently, there are plenty of ongoing discussions with key stakeholders, led by the Fijian Government and supported by the tourism industry, to determine processes and protocols to safely welcome vaccinated travellers again.
Despite the current COVID-19 scenario, the road to recovery for tourism is through vaccination. Fiji has been able to do a phenomenal job here, with over 93 per cent of the eligible population having received their first dose and over 40 per cent fully vaccinated. The percentage of vaccinated people across the world is also growing rapidly. Therefore, our strategy is to collaborate with markets across the globe that are open to sending vaccinated tourists and work with our Fijian industry to provide a safe destination for travellers and our local population.
We have five key strategic elements we’re working towards –
- Sprint to re-opening ie, focus all our energies on re-opening our borders.
- Communicate clearly to our industry, market and consumers.
- Market and generate a clear branding – we will be launching a global ad campaign to show the world that Fiji is welcoming tourists again.
- Ensure readiness and capability in Fiji.
- Invest in the team – provide support to make this happen.
- There is a lot of talk about what the future is going to look like, and the overriding changes this pandemic is going to bring about across sectors, but particularly in the travel industry ranging from digital health passports to contactless travel. What changes do you foresee in the travel industry?
Yes, there will be some changes that we can anticipate. The truth though is that vaccine passports and the like have been around for years, in order to travel to some countries. The difference now is that the process will be digital. Passengers will require an easy and simple method of proving vaccination, and there is a lot of work going on around the globe to try and have a universally accepted standard. I think also things like QR codes, and digital ways of knowing where you are will also continue to be a part of our lives – perhaps not as manual as they are now, but ways of contacting you digitally and knowing where you have been will be helpful to continue to keep tourists safe. Overall, the no.1 factor will be around safety and digital methodology.
- How can we strike a balance between safety and travel experiences?
Fiji is exactly the kind of destination people will look to travel to in the new normal. Tourists won’t be flocking to cities, instead they will look to get away, spend some time on the beach, in the sun, and to relax and enjoy life again. We have many incredible properties with open spaces, uncrowded and amazing experiences around them, staffed by the friendliest people in the world. With a heavily vaccinated local population, easy, convenient, and safe ways of getting around, I am confident Fiji would definitely attract tourists globally.
The existing Care Fiji Commitment is already in place and doing an excellent job of allowing the industry to follow protocols in order to be 100 per cent vaccinated and put in place plans for safely welcoming tourists back again. There will be further plans and preparations before the end of the year, and the stakeholders involved are working through all scenarios and best practice around the world, to ensure we can safely open Fiji once again to the world.
Thus, our combination of amazing accommodation, uncrowded beaches and facilities, stunning weather and generous hospitality makes Fiji is a perfect balance of safety and travel experiences. Fiji has exactly what the world needs.
- What outcomes do you expect from the India market after Fiji relaxes all norms and is open for Indian travellers?
Fiji has always been deeply linked with India as over 40 per cent of the population being of Indian origin have made this Pacific nation their home for over a century. The Indian outbound travel segment has grown leaps and bounds and during the pre-COVID times, the number of Indians travelling was on the rise globally. India is a key emerging market for Fiji and the country has always looked forward to building sustainable and responsible tourism from this region. We are sure to see an increasing propensity of travel to Fiji from India given the sheer market size and the rising standard of living of the young population who have the inclination to spend and who are likely to travel when borders re-open.
When the time is right Fiji will open to markets where vaccinated travellers are and where convenient flight routes exist. I am very confident that India, like many markets around the world, as their vaccination levels rise, will be a market of our focus.
- Fiji has launched ‘Care Fiji Commitment Program’ for safety of travellers. Can you throw some light on the same?
Fiji has introduced the ‘Care Fiji Commitment’ which is a program dedicated to enhanced safety, health and hygiene protocols to ensure the utmost safety of travellers to Fiji in a post-COVID-19 world. It’s as good as any program available around the world and helps put Fiji forward towards our goal of making it the safest tourist destination in the world. Although our borders continue to remain closed for international travellers, the introduction of the program represents a destination-wide assurance that Fiji will be ready to welcome travellers when the time is right. We are happy to share the CFC programme has received recognition by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), having adopted health and hygiene protocols that are aligned with WTTC’s Global Safe Travels Protocols. The Care Fiji Commitment program consists of the following key components:
– Globally Recognised Control and Mitigation Measures
– Designated Wellness Ambassadors
– careFIJI Contact Tracing App
– Two-Way Commitment
- When Fiji opens its door for the travellers, what new experience/attractions the travellers will come across?
Travellers today are inclined towards experiential and niche holiday offerings. From luxury escapades, golf tourism, marine adventure to destination weddings in Fiji, we are looking at highlighting a plethora of experiences through the length and breadth of the destination.
Vou Hub – A big top arena in Denarau, Kokomana – Cocoa farm and the chocolate factory in Savusavu, Kanu Restaurant – Chef Lance Seeto’s newest culinary palace & Seventh Heaven – pontoon located in the Mamanuca Islands are some of the new experiences we can’t wait to share with our travellers.
We also have new resorts – Leleuvia Resort – A small Eco-resort as seen on Amazon Prime’s Eco-Challenge Fiji and Matanivusi Resort in the coral coast to name a few. We are looking at expanding the array of products on offer for our visitors.