Dreaming big: Fiji sets sights on lucrative business events industry

A rainbow graces the skyline at Waya Island in Fiji. Source: Flickr/Kanaka Rastamon

FIJI has long been popular with holidaymakers, yet this tropical paradise has a desire to be known for more than just relaxing vacations.

The country – an archipelago of some 333 islands – is keen to make its mark in Asia Pacific’s booming MICE market, investing in improvements to transport links, facilities and the growth of hotel room inventories.

These efforts appear to be paying off as earnings from business and conference tourism have risen annually in the last five years, reaching FJD87.5 million (US$42.3 million) in 2016 – an increase of 35 percent from 2012 figures.

With such substantial growth, we took a closer look at Fiji’s evolving MICE offerings.

New, coordinated approach

When Fiji first dipped its toe in MICE tourism, local service providers were mostly working in isolation of one another. In 2015, however, all that changed.

Tourism Fiji launched the Convention Bureau and a coherent strategy to organize efforts. Now, the agency plays a pivotal role in activities like marketing, bidding, and hospitality education.

The bureau also assists time-poor planners, streamlining event management so decisions on venues, accommodation and incentive packages can be made with greater ease – something especially useful considering services can be found beyond the main island of Viti Levu.

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Meetings and incentives

Fiji’s venue portfolio is another rapidly developing area. Back in 2013, the largest conference facility could accommodate 400 delegates, supporting only small to mid-sized events.

But now, several new builds have international-scale capabilities, boasting high-tech amenities and substantial capacities.

The biggest is the Denarau Island Convention Center, host to this year’s Fijian Travel Expo. This versatile event space located in the luxury Sheraton Resort has room for 1,700 guests and benefits from plenty of accommodation close by.

Hotels, too, offer extensive meeting and event facilities. The Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa in Denarau can seat 758 people in the largest of its 10 multi-use rooms.

Elsewhere on the island, the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Natadola can accommodate up to 450 guests in its Waterfront Conference Center – a venue that successfully held The Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in January.

The incentive market remains a large draw for business event organizers eager to embrace Fiji’s idyllic surroundings, vibrant culture, and friendly locals.

To meet demand, experiences expand and improve all the time. Just about anything can be arranged from team-building Fijian banquets and hot glass-blowing workshops to sailing adventures, waterfall tours, and skydiving.

Future of MICE

There is little chance of the pace slowing with rumors of a new conference facility planned for Korotogo, at the five-star Outrigger Beach Resort.

Equally promising is the news Jet Airways and Fiji Airways have signed a codeshare agreement to improve the connectivity between India and Fiji – a move that will likely further boost business (and leisure) tourism in the area.

All things considered, Fiji certainly appears on track to achieving its goals in the competitive MICE sector.

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