May 20, 2018 Last Updated 4:18 AM, May 18, 2018

Tourism toilet gaffe

By Samisoni Pareti

Tourism Fiji, the marketing agency of Fiji as a tourist destination has been forced to issue a public apology following an embarrassing langugage blunder on one of its social media postings overnight.

In a video about everyday Fijian terms posted on its Facebook and Instagram pages, Tourism Fiji used the Fijian word for church – valenilotu – as the meaning of the word ‘toilet.’

The mistake went viral on social media overnight before Tourism Fiji pulled the post and upload an apology in its place before lunch time today.

“Sincere apologies everyone,” states the online apology. “Content fact-checking was clearly inaccurate and the post has since been removed. Apologies for any offence this may have caused,” adds Tourism Fiji.

When IB Online followed this up with a request for an explanation from the office of the Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Fiji, Matthew Stoeckel, his office issued this statement to all the media networks.

“Tourism Fiji would like to apologise for an incorrect translation of an iTaukei word which was posted within a video on our social media accounts that was attempting to showcase every-day Fijian words to our international visitors,” says the TF statement.

“The mistake was due to a mismatch of graphic design and failure of our quality assurance process. The post was removed this morning by Tourism Fiji’s social media team shortly after the organisation became aware of the mistake.

“Tourism Fiji takes full responsibility for the error and sincerely regrets any offence this post may have caused our fellow Fijians. We take this situation very seriously and are reviewing our internal processes to ensure this does not happen again.”

A fully-funded agency of the Fijian Government, Tourism Fiji operates on an annual grant of between $30 to $40  (US$14.5m - US$19.4m) million. It is headquartered in Nadi, close to Nadi International Airport on the west coast of Fiji’s main island.

FIJI is still the number one tourist destination in the Pacific region attracting a little over 840,000 visitors last year with a total estimated earnings of US$4.3 billion from all countries in the region. And authorities are projecting a 2.2 million tourist arrivals to the region by 2020.

The provisional tourist arrivals for the 18 member countries of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation is 2.13million for 2017.

Fiji’s visitor arrivals increased by 6.4 per cent last year due to strong growth in tourist arrivals from New Zealand, the United States of America and Australia.

Cumulative to February, visitor arrivals rose by 2.4per cent led by increased arrivals from New Zealand, US, Continental Europe and China.

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Killing the golden goose

High taxes threaten tourism

HIGH taxes and service charges have pushed Fiji’s major revenue generator into the more expensive destinations for tourists. With VAT increasing from 5 to 10 per cent and Service Turnover Tax reducing from 10 to six per cent and Departure Taxes at $200 per passenger, what was once a popular choice for New Zealanders and Australians may soon be out of reach for families.

And families are the key to the success of tourism in Fiji. Hoteliers have been forced to find creative ways to sell their destination and product in a very competitive market where technology has had a major impact on how companies reaching out to their customers.

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association has lobbied government not to tax the only industry that it claims actively and positively addresses environmental issues through pro-active self-funded programs. During a media workshop organized by the association in Suva last month, participants discussed the need to reduce the tax levied on the industry. Instead, tourism operators want the same taxes spread across industries which impacted the environment. These taxes would be collected and used to fund environment protection programs.

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Time to walk the talk

Conference to dialogue on tourism issues

In a bid to provide a regional platform for dialogue on matters of interest in international and regional tourism, the first ever Pacific Tourism Insights Conference (PTIC) will convene in Vanuatu next month. Through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), the conference is a joint collaboration between the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Vanuatu Tourism Office (VTO) The one-day conference will bring together regional and international thinkers, professionals and leading reputable companies such as Trip Advisor, BBC Worldwide Asia and other reputable organisations. Priya Chand of Islands Business talks to SPTO chief executive officer Christopher Cocker for get an insight on the inaugural conference and other tourism-related matters in the region.

IB: What is the main purpose of the inaugural Pacific Tourism Insights Conference in Vanuatu?

COCKER: IT will be very important for us to make contact and strengthen our existing relationship with PATA which has tremendous Asian connections. A partnership between PATA and the SPTO would have enormous potential for possible entry of the Pacific into the Asian market for our regional destinations. There’s also the opportunity at this event to look at developments in the Asian market and more importantly around the globe in the area of tourism.

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Beauty with purpose

Miss World Fiji to use global pageant to spread divine word

FULL-TIME missionary and university science graduate Nanise Rainima will represent Fiji at this year’s Miss World Pageant to be staged in China in November. There are three things on her mind: to spread the word about her faith, to promote her culture, and to create awareness about climate change.

The 25-year old lass from Nakelo, Tailevu has a distinguishing feature that makes her stand out. The “buiniga” or traditional Fijian afro hairstyle that she wears with pride. “It’s the true epitome of Fijian beauty,” she says. Nanise will be the first indigenous woman to represent Fiji at the global event. Previous contestants have either been part-European or Indian with long straight hair.

She calls it a blessing having the “buiniga” but reaction on social media from outside Fiji has not been receptive. However, she is determined to fully experience what the pageant has to offer, both the negative and positive. “I’m fully aware of what I’m getting myself into and I’m ready.” It’s not usual for a missionary with a strong evangelical church background to be entering pageants. But this is nothing new to Nanise.

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