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Visa-free travel will draw more Chinese tourists to Fiji

2015-03-17 11:05 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

From March 14, 2015 on, nationals of China and Fiji can enter each other's country without a visa, as agreed by both governments. The latest move, combined with other steps such as the launching of Fiji's first travel guidebook in Chinese, are expected to further attract Chinese tourists to the South Pacific island country, many say in Fiji.

"For Fiji, The visa waiver itself is favorable news, or a powerful official advertisement, which will let a lot of Chinese people know more about the country, and I believe the number of Chinese tourists in Fiji will increase at a higher speed," Beryl Wang, managing director of Fiji's Top Oriental Travel Services co, ltd. told Xinhua on Tuesday.

Wang, a Chinese-Fijian, said in a bid to receive the anticipated bigger Chinese tourist flow into Fiji, her company will "do more homework" to better serve them in regard to meals, travel, accommodation, playing and shopping.

Meanwhile, the travel agency, which also serves Australian and New Zealand tourists, will pay more attention to personnel training and recruit more employees who can speak both Chinese and English.

Wang's comments echoed Fijian Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Faiyaz Koya's remarks while launching the island country's first travel guidebook in Chinese late last year.

"China represents Fiji's most important growth market for tourism in the coming years and that is why the Fijian government is taking a decisive leadership role to get more Chinese visitors to our shores each year," Koya said.

"As an industry, we should be proud of this collaborative effort. The guide will make information about Fiji readily available to the Chinese traveler in their own language," he added.

The travel guidebook in Chinese, which contains key information such as the history of Fiji, its geography, how to get around, accommodation options and attractions around Fiji, would help cater for the growing Chinese tourism market in the country, local newspaper the Fiji Sun reported.

In fact, the number of Chinese tourists in Fiji, though a little humble, kept growing in recent years.

According to Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji has been "seeing a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese visitors to Fiji".

"Last year, 28,000 came to our shores, an increase of 5,000 over 2013. But the Chinese market has grown from just 4,000 visitors in 2009. So in the past six years, we have seen a seven- fold increase in Chinese visitor arrivals and we are determined for that number to grow," Bainimarama said while celebrating Spring Festival with local Chinese community earlier this year.

Fiji's annual tourist arrivals reached a new high of 692,630 in 2014, a 5.3 percent increase over that in 2013, statistics show.

Will the visa waiver with China help Chinese tourists take up a much bigger part in Fiji's total visitor arrivals this year and the years to come? Fiji's tourism industry is waiting for the answer.

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