SUVA, July 9 (Xinhua) -- About 20 percent of the 400 resorts and hotels in Fiji have re-opened to welcome local Fijians as part of the Fijian government's efforts to restart the island nation's struggling tourism.
According to Fijivillage news website, Fantasha Lockington, CEO of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, said on Thursday that this is because domestic tourism does not come out for the whole week but only a weekend or maybe three days at the most.
Apart from people not having the time or the money to spend more time in hotels and resorts, the response to recently-launched "Love our Locals" campaign has been great, she said, adding that it has allowed the hotels that have decided to open to test out the new way of doing business.
There are more than 70 Fijian tourism operators that have come onboard with this campaign by Tourism Fiji and are giving special deals for locals. They will initially be running this campaign for 12 months and are hoping to continue after their international visitors' return.
As some resorts in Fiji are slowly beginning to open up again from July 1, more and more Fijians will have chance to experience their favourite tourist destinations.
As an island nation with a population of around 900,000, Fiji has been striving to restart its shrinking tourism industry, which is the backbone of the nation's economy as the biggest foreign exchange earner, but it has been devastated by travel-related restrictions and the consequent halt in international tourism after this year's outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year's visitor arrivals to Fiji are forecast to decline by 75 percent with the flow-on effects bringing tourism-dependent sectors to a standstill. This has culminated in a spike in unemployment as many businesses including a lot of beautiful resorts and hotels across the nation have scaled back or shut down operations. The tourism industry, which has already laid off about 40,000 people, has been at a grinding halt for the past months, and more lay-offs are likely before things improve this year.
The current forecast assumes that inbound travel to Fiji will return to some form of normalcy from the last quarter of 2020 and not revert to 2019 levels at least until 2023. Therefore, the recovery is expected to be gradual but contingent on resumption of international travel. Enditem