Editorial comment – When numbers stand out

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Inosi Cabealawa (left) with Jone Raiyawa and Meli Tokalau greet Australian tourists Beverly Harrison and Kate Hewitt at the Port of Lautoka during the arrival of Pacific Explorer on Monday, August 15, 2022. Picture: SITERI SAUVAKACOLO

A lot of Fijians will be encouraged by the revelation that tourists are continuing to arrive in the country in numbers.

Last month, a total of 70,152 tourists arrived in the country.

It was, however, lower than the 72,657 who arrived in September.

The Fiji Bureau of Statistics (FBOS) said out of the 70,152 visitors, 69,052 came by air while 1100 came by sea.

The sea arrivals were mostly seamen on fishing vessels (1031) and 69 arrivals by yachts.

It stated Australia, New Zealand, USA, Europe, Canada, Britain and China accounted for 93.4 per cent of the total visitor arrivals for October and remain the major source markets for Fiji from the pre-COVID era in 2019.

The FBOS said 34,351 visitors came to Fiji from Australia while 19,610 arrived from New Zealand.

Another 7692 came from USA, 1526 from Europe, 916 from Canada, 737 from Britain and 588 from China.

When we break that down further, the majority of visitors were in the age range of 25-64 years (64.1 per cent), which accounts for the vast majority of the working age population.

Any effort to encourage growth in visitor arrivals is welcomed.

It sets the stage for many positive things, from employment opportunities, business growth, and stimulation of the domestic economy.

We appreciate there are opportunities for growth in other sectors as well.

Benefits will stretch through to the farmer for instance who supplies produce to hotels and resorts, the transport provider, cabbies, handicraft maker, stores that sell souvenir items for tourists, to connected beneficiaries that include the bus driver, to the supermarket workers because hotel workers have disposable income.

Industries connected to tourism will thrive under any growth of our numbers.

That will mean positive outcomes for the masses, and a better and more positive outlook for our economy.

If we are to stretch that benefit, then it would include workers for our national airline for instance, those in administration, and associated travel agents including those who work at our airports, and those who provide services for there and for our aircraft.

It’s when we look at all these that we are reminded about our role to ensure the status quo remains.

We have a challenge to empower those who are frontliners in the campaign to attract tourists to Fiji.

That means ensuring our visitors feel safe and secure when in Fiji.

Following the major issues that popped up after the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which started in April last year, we are encouraged by these numbers.

We reflect on and appreciate lessons learnt at the height of the pandemic.

Far too many people lost their jobs then.

Thousands more were forced to take massive pay cuts, work reduced hours or take leave without pay.

We realise times are looking much better now.

The onus is on us though as a nation to be mindful of the lessons learnt!

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