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Fiji pins growth hopes on Chinese tourists, plans direct flights from HK

2023-11-24 10:02:41China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese tourists can potentially boost Fiji's tourism as their numbers are expected to surge in the years to come, said Tourism Fiji, the tourism marketing arm of the Fijian government.

China is on course to become the fourth-largest tourism and strategic market for Fiji as the Chinese outbound travel market recovered rapidly after the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase of 1,000 visitors from China each month starting this year, amid strong passenger demand, said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

"We expect the country's outbound tourism to return to the level of the pre-pandemic era as soon as next year," he said.

According to Hill, Chinese tourists are very important given their great number of visitor arrivals during Fiji's low season, which has a knock-on effect on several other related businesses.

"We're keen for the Chinese (outbound travel) market to grow again as other markets continue to open around the world. Chinese tourists spend more in Fiji, with their expenditure going up compared with that of the pre-COVID era."

According to the China Tourism Academy, the research arm of China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 40.37 million Chinese mainland tourists visited overseas destinations in the first half of this year.

In response, Fiji Airways expects to come up with more flights to attract more Chinese tourists.

Fiji Airways plans to introduce five direct flights from Hong Kong to Nadi, Fiji's third-largest city, next month. The airline has already increased the number of weekly Hong Kong-Nadi flights from two to three in June, said Kamal Haer, global sales executive manager of Fiji Airways.

Tourism is the island nation's most important industry and its biggest foreign exchange earner.

According to Hill, the importance of the Chinese market for Fiji's tourism industry cannot be overstated. China is a rapidly growing tourism market and a crucial source for Fiji's tourism.

Even globally, China offered 170 million trips and contributed $254 billion to the global travel economy in 2019. Before COVID-19, Fiji welcomed over 50,000 tourists annually from China, making it one of Fiji's top markets, generating $98.5 million in revenue, Hill said.

Since the resumption of the Hong Kong-Nadi flights in April, Fiji has welcomed 13,152 Chinese visitors. "In 2023, our air capacity has rebounded impressively, and by December this year, we will be flying full capacity as per 2019 levels to Hong Kong," he said.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, passenger traffic volume on international routes in the first half recovered to 23 percent of the total seen in the same period of 2019, with international passenger traffic volume in June recovering to 41.6 percent compared with the same period in 2019.

Hill said the Tourism Fiji team will step up cooperation with local agencies in China to cooperate on the promotion of outbound tourism to Fiji.

Tourism Fiji, Fiji Airways and Group, a Chinese travel service provider, had signed a three-year agreement to collaborate on travel marketing initiatives, products and data, to fully optimize the travel experience for tourists in Fiji.

"Our original target was that by the end of 2024, we would be back to that peak level, but things are going so well (we could reach our target earlier than that)," said Hill. "We started the year with the first couple of months above 2019 already ... I'm very optimistic that we can do really well this year."


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