Tourism Fiji plans fam trips and marketing to woo Britons

Tourism Fiji is taking UK travel agents to the South Pacific destination during 2023 as part of its drive to woo Brits after the lifting of its final Covid rules earlier this month.

Since February 14, international travellers arriving have not needed proof of Covid-19 vaccination and travel insurance.

A group of eight travel agents will be travelling to Fiji next month, thanks to winning a competition in Travel Weekly, which the tourist board ran with British Airways, Fiji Airways and Outrigger Resorts.

Other fam trips are planned and travel buyers from the UK will also be attending the Fijian Tourism Expo in May.

Brent Hill (pictured), Tourism Fiji chief executive, said: “It’s great to be talking about Fiji again. I was at World Travel Market London in November last year and people were really taking notice of us.”

Jane West is the tourist board’s London-based UK and Europe regional director, working to develop partnerships with the trade, advertising, training and events.

There is a regular newsletter, as well as a revamped online training programme called Matai.

Agents on the training programme can reach three levels: bronze, silver and gold – with fam trip opportunities for those at the top level.

“We are very open to working with the trade,” said Hill.

The destination reopened to vaccinated visitors in December 2021 and Hill said 2022 was a “strong year”.

“It was not so badly affected by the restrictions, there was just the need for vaccination,” he said.

“But now we have no restrictions, there is no worry about what you need at the airport.”

He said long-haul market had a slow start in 2022 but picked up in the second half of the year as more British arrivals visited.

“Before Covid, we would see about 16,000-17,000 Brits a year. Last year was about 10,000, and I am encouraged that 2023 will be better,” he said.

He said traditional stopover destinations such as Hong Kong and Tokyo have now opened too, so long-haul flight capacity will recover over the course of 2023.

A wide range of operators feature Fiji, such as Trailfinders, Travelbag, Flight Centre UK, First Class Holidays, Gold Medal, Major Travel and Jetset.

And Fiji Airways codeshares with carriers such as BA, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines and Air New Zealand.

“As Hong Kong and Japan get more capacity on stream, air fares will be more attractive,” he said.

“And customers don’t want to put off their bucket-list travel – Covid showed how the world can be turned upside down very quickly. Fiji is always on bucket lists.”

And despite cost-of-living pressures, the destination is seeing higher spending on luxury accommodation.

“Fiji offers what the world needs – beautiful scenery, low density buildings, a very natural environment and few crowds,” he said, noting the tourist board’s slogan: ‘Where happiness comes naturally’.

It caters for a wide range of travellers, from the luxury market to backpackers and working holidays.

Hill said the two main markets are family holidays and luxury honeymooners/professional couples.

The average length of stay for Brits is 12 days, and he recommended a two-centre holiday, with time in a mainland resort and a boutique property on a smaller island.

“Fiji offers good value with the exchange rate – the pound goes a long way,” he said, with nightly rates at a luxury property around FJ$1,000, which is about £360.

He advised Brits to avoid mid-July, which is the peak school holiday season for Australia, New Zealand and US – but highlighted how it is always warm, even during its winter time, and everyone speaks English.

And despite the long journey time, he assured agents that it is worth the effort.

“Do the trek and get here – Fiji really does reward you,” he said.

“There is a real ‘brag’ factor and your camera will love it.”

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