SUVA, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese tourists are very important for the tourism development of the Pacific island countries like Fiji, said a Fijian official on Wednesday.
"As the Pacific island countries like Fiji, we warmly welcome Chinese tourists as they are contributing to the development of our tourism," Nanise Masau, director of Fiji's Department of Tourism told Xinhua while welcoming the arrival of the Costa Atlantica cruise which carries about 1,800 Chinese tourists.
To show Fiji's hospitality, the department worked together with China Cultural Center in Fiji by organizing a Bula (traditional) welcoming ceremony for the Chinese tourists at Suva Port with traditional warriors and musicians.
The Chinese market is very important and Fiji has done everything possible to attract more Chinese tourists, she said, adding that Fiji is getting ready to receive Chinese tourists.
According to Nanise Masau, In 2018, Fiji received a total of 49,721 visitors from China, an year-on-year increase of 1 percent. Average Chinese visitor arrival growth over the last five years recorded 17.1 percent.
Annual tourism earnings from the Chinese market in 2018 recorded 100.6 million Fijian dollars (about 46.6 million U.S. dollars), a 17.1 percent increase compared to 2017. Tourism earnings from the Chinese market has grown at an average 21.1 percent over the last five years.
Tourism is the most important industry in Fiji and the biggest foreign exchange earner for the country.
Fiji has in recent years received more than 800,000 visitors per year. The Fijian government has set a goal of developing the tourism industry to a 2.2 billion Fijian dollars (about 1 billion U.S. dollar) industry by 2021.
Currently, China is Fiji's fourth largest tourist market and tourism earnings from the Chinese market account for close to 5 percent of the country's total tourism earnings.
For his part, Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo said that over the past decades, China and Fiji have enjoyed very good relations and the Chinese tourists will not only help develop the Pacific island countries' tourism but also further the understanding and friendship between the peoples of the countries.
Sun Jie, director of China Cultural Center in Fiji, said that the arrival of these Chinese tourists, the first-ever largest tourists group in recent years, is a major event in the history of the cultural and tourism cooperation between China and Fiji.