Tourism industry growth

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Australian tourists arrive at the Nadi International Airport on the first flight out of Sydney as Fiji opens its International border. Picture: REINAL CHAND

Fiji’s tourism industry is expected to grow by 1300 per cent as the country is expecting 447,000 visitors in 2022.

This was according to the Attorney-General and Minster for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the Fiji Chamber of Commerce and Industry business session of Thursday last week.

He said visitor numbers were about 897,000, tourism arrivals in 2019 which plummeted to 147,000 in 2020 and last year recording 32,000 visitors in Fiji.

“Of course we are starting from a very low base but the opening up the borders essentially meant that there is a bit more robustness in the economy,” said the Minister for Economy.

“And tourism, of course is a major driver of the economy in Fiji, notwithstanding that there are a number of other sectors that do contribute to economic growth in Fiji and as a government, our strategy has always been to try and diversify the economy.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said during the period of COVID Fiji had more than 100,000 Fijians who lost their jobs or had reduced hours. “In that period however, there are about 3000 new jobs created in the BPO sector.

“In last year’s budget, we allocated $300,000 to the BPO Council.

“The Australian Government also through its agencies are working with us working with the BPO Council.”

He said they saw an enormous potential and projections made by some of the experts were that there was a potential of 100,000 jobs being created in next 10 years in the BPO sector.

“What has led to this fundamentally the enormous levels of infrastructure investment that has been made by government in the telecommunication space.

“We have also expanded funds in the Southern Cross cable, the next gen cable has landed here with government forward $US20 million ($F49.32) in that respect, we’ve got the refund for that.”

The AG said people in Fiji all spoke English and had neutral access so people could understand us a lot better.

He said companies don’t have to spend millions of dollars getting our people to change their accent to be able to understand.

“So from one perspective, you can look at the glass is half full, because there has been a lot of positivity that has come out of the pandemic.

“But we need to learn from what has actually happened.

“We need to be able to build the capacity, we need to be able to ensure that our financial institutions, of course, are lot more robust. We need to ensure that the laws that are in place a lot more flexible to be able to cater for such situations,” he added.