Fiji has more reason than ever to say a massive Bula and welcome to the Pacific Island paradise, showcasing the newest and best tourism offerings to the world at the Fiji Tourism Exchange.

With those “Bulas” bellowing down the halls at Denarau Island Convention Centre in Fiji, the fourth consecutive Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) kicked off today. Hosted by Tourism Fiji, Fiji’s premier tourism industry event will run until 5 May, this year attracting record numbers.

More than 100 of Fiji’s tourism operators will showcase their products and services to 160 international travel buyers and media from 21 countries, an increase of seven percent on last year’s attendance.

FTE 2017 Welcome

Tourism Fiji Trade Partnerships Manager Jason Sacriz said this year’s event will offer invaluable networking opportunities among industry partners.

“There is so much diversity in the range of products and services exhibited at this year’s event, where we trust local operators and international buyers will further benefit from the two-days of highly-charged meetings and evening networking opportunities designed to strengthen ties among our industry partners,” Sacriz added.

While 2016 was a fantastic year for Fiji, with a five percent growth in visitor numbers, it did not come without challenges, most notably Cyclone Winston early in 2016.

Speaking to media at the event, Tourism Fiji CEO, Matthew Stoeckel said since 2016, the industry has matured, along with Fiji Tourism, and they have adapted and learnt to “get right back on the horse and achieve targets.”

“There is a positive outlook in 2017, with growth in the luxury space proving Fiji is not just about a family destination, but has a high-end luxury offering for couples,” Stoeckel added.

Infrastructure in Fiji has also been a priority, with the $126mil modernisation project for the airport nearly complete.

Emerging markets are a target for 2017, off the back of Fiji Airways launching its service to Singapore, the Asia market is a target for the coming year. UK and Europe remain secondary markets with a dive and youth focus for 2017.

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In attendance at the event was the newly appointed Tourism Fiji Regional Manager – Australia, Hal Caldwell.

Caldwell took up his role leading Tourism Fiji’s expanding team within the Australian office in late April and is responsible for managing Tourism Fiji’s Australian consumer marketing activities, while working in close consultation with Sacriz.

“Fiji has so much to offer Australian holidaymakers and I’m honoured and raring to help inspire more Australians to discover Fiji’s unique appeal as a destination where happiness really does find you,” Caldwell said.

Buyers and travel trade media from Fiji’s largest international markets including Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Europe, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine, China, Singapore, India, Pakistan and Brazil, enjoyed an entertaining opening ceremony last night at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa and will go on to experience some of the best Fiji has to offer in post famils.

Not before being in for a surprise. Fiji’s Olympic Gold Medal winning Men’s Sevens team will be dropping in to the Expo to challenge delegates to a light game of touch rugby.

Boosting the Fijian Government’s ‘Fijian Made and Buy Fijian Campaign’, FTE 2017 will also showcase a Fijian Crafts Village where artisans will demonstrate and sell varied Fijian-made arts and crafts. FTE 2017 will also feature live performances by local musicians, cultural groups and artists.