29 Sep 2005

Virgin Blue says tourist numbers in the Pacific have soared since they began flying

8:09 pm on 29 September 2005

Twelve months after launching flights to Fiji and Vanuatu, low cost carrier Virgin Blue says it has contributed to a visitor boom to the Pacific islands.

Virgin's Pacific Blue flights from Australia to Nadi and Port Vila were launched in September 2004 and since then the airline claims visitor numbers had increased strongly.

The airline said there had been a 56 per cent increase in visitor numbers travelling from Brisbane to Fiji over the last 12 months combined with a 37 per cent increase from Brisbane to Vanuatu.

Forty-seven per cent growth was experienced in the Melbourne to Fiji route, while overall 21 per cent more Australians were visiting Fiji than 12 months ago.

Virgin Blue chief executive Brett Godfrey says the spin offs from this increase in visitor numbers are far-reaching for Fiji and Vanuatu in terms of economic benefits and jobs.