The reopening of at least three of our island resorts damaged during Tropical Cyclone Evan is a proud thing for Fiji.
Tourism permanent secretary Elizabeth Powell said this showcased the resilience of Fiji’s tourism industry.
Ms Powell said the speedy recovery of the island resorts was due to coordinated efforts from all stakeholders.
Ms Powell said they had noted a decrease in the number of visitors arriving into Fiji for January.
She said they noted seven per cent decrease in the number, adding that while many of the Island Resorts and other properties on Denarau and other areas had sustained damages during the floods and cyclones of last year and early this year, they had anticipated the number to be higher.
Castaway Island Fiji is scheduled to open on Easter Monday, while Likuliku Lagoon Resort is likely to reopen by 22 April.
Malolo Island Resort, which also sustained damage during the cyclone is also closed for repairs is likely to reopen its doors for visitors by August. After its owners, the Rosie Group, also use the closure to do a substantial upgrade.
Ms Powell noted that Naviti Resort which had been damaged in a fire last year, quickly reopened to welcome guests.
“We had two floodings and then the cyclone and Naviti had its own event of fire- all these things and other things that occur periodically that affect tourism, it showed that the industry in total has learnt from its past experience and is working together better and smarter.
“In addition to that, we have formulated a two-pronged approach that is spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism.
“One is the tourism emergency taskforce which comprises the chief executive officers of AFL (Airports Fiji Limited), ATS (Air Terminal Services), Air Pacific, Tourism Fiji and the presidents or CEO of Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, and SOFTA (Society of Fiji Travel Agents)- they do all the inbound transfers, marine transfers, so on.
“This is chaired by me and during any event, we have hourly conference calls and we have feedbacks from all of them on the ground which the Ministry relays back to the Government agencies, primarily DISMAC and utilities- water and electricity.”
She said that by using the Ministry as the conduit, they were able to get quick response to the industry’s needs and keep them informed on the impact on infrastructure.
Ms Powell said with the use of Air Pacific, Tourism Fiji and Government’s media partners, they had been able to see that accurate information regarding natural disasters been sent out.
By the time Fiji was hit with floods and Cyclone Evan, Ms Powell said all mechanisms were in place which assisted everyone in a timely manner.
Ms Powell also acknowledged that the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama headed the recovery period himself.
“He is the one that allocated resources from RFMF engineers and personnels and very quickly, in coordination with DISMAC assisted in quick cleaning up.
“Every day, under the PM’s directive things moved really fast and I think the industry was also reassured of the Government’s commitment to building the infrastructure and security,” Ms Powell said.
Ms Powell said the time the properties saved from the clean-up process had assisted them in investing it in their properties, which will now be opening in a bigger and better manner.