6 Jun 2007

Fiji tourist arrivals fail to keep pace with growing room numbers

3:07 pm on 6 June 2007

The performance of Fiji's tourism sector is still below expectations within the industry despite an increase in visitor numbers from Australia and New Zealand.

The latest figures show visitor numbers for the past year have grown by 2.3 percent from Australia and 1 percent from New Zealand over the previous year, but worldwide they are down 1.5 percent.

The Visitor Bureau's chief executive, Bill Gavoka, says the tourism industry is suffering because more rooms have been build in the past year that are now empty.

"We are up by one percent out of New Zealand. For the whole world it's 1.5 percent down. The confidence level for Fiji is still very high in terms of visitor numbers. But then, visitor numbers have to be translated to hotel occupancy. If you want to fill up the hotel rooms comfortably, we need to be growing at about ten percent to the previous year in visitor arrivals. So that is where the problem is."

Bill Gavoka says visitor numbers are stagnant because of less money for marketing, negative travel advisories, and reports about human rights abuses by the military regime.