Fiji can become billion dollar industry again, says tourism chief

Tourism Fiji says if the booking numbers continue to come through, then the Pacific island nation is well on its way to becoming a billion-dollar industry again.

Tourism Fiji has confirmed 75,000 bookings for hotels and resorts until the end of next month.

Hill said there had been a 'massive increase' in hits on the Tourism Fiji website since the Pacific island nation reopened to the world on 1 December.

This included the launch of the industry's 'Open for Happiness' campaign.

"These numbers reflect the marketing and publicity that Tourism Fiji and our industry are doing is having a really strong impact," Hill said.

"At TF (Tourism Fiji) we are very focused on ROI (survey) for the spend that we put out and it's fantastic to see the immediate impact.

"The website hits show that people are seeing our marketing and are going onto our web and social pages, looking at the advertising and getting information on Fiji."

Hill said operators are not only receiving family travellers, but luxury and adventure travellers as well.

He said these tourists are also making bookings in hotels and resorts outside of Fiji's main island of Viti Levu.

Hill said if these 75,000 people spend an average of around $US1,600, they are looking at close to $US120 million coming into the Fijian economy in just a couple of months.

"We are very hopeful that we will get to that. That's the hope that we have based on the numbers that we are actually getting now.

"We have seen some resorts do exceptionally well," Hill said. "Places like the Shangri-la, the Marriott on Momi Bay, Intercontinental, all the Denarau resorts are doing very well.

"But what's really pleasing is people are travelling and booking into places like Vanua Levu, Taveuni and even some of the places in the Mamanucas," Hill said.

Fiji Airports acting CEO, Isei Tudreu, said the past two weeks have been very special for workers in the industry as "they have been waiting for 20 months to welcome visitors to Fiji."

The Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation said business activity is improving and it was reflected in the Reserve Bank of Fiji's changing their forecast.

The federation's CEO Kameli Batiweti said over 70,000 visitors booked to travel to Fiji in December was a good thing, as the country could earn around 60 percent of pre-covid times with the economic activity generated from tourism.

Tourism Fiji is also working with local cruise operators to expand the market next year - focusing on the infrastructure and opportunities available.

"A lot of the conversations has been with our existing cruise providers, Captain Cook, South Seas and some of the LiveAboard dive operators.

"So they have a slightly different protocol that the tourist is able to come in, they can either stay overnight in Denarau and join the boat the next day but they have to test negative in order to then get on the boat.

"So they can test inside those 48 hours in order to get onto the boat because obviously, if you wait 48 hours, that boat might be five nautical miles offshore."

Hill said if somebody were to test positive then they would be stuck in a port or a cabin.