Friday, April 10, 2009

About the Situation in Fiji

The following is obviously knee-jerk.

Today, this address by the President of Fiji has exploded on the news tickers.
It's pretty much self-explanatory.

I expect a quick and harsh reaction by many of the neighboring countries, the USA and the local and international Agencies, like the South Pacific Forum, the Commonwealth, the EU and the UN. I also expect that some countries may choose to re-formulate their travel advisories.

As a result, the Tourism Industry which is already reeling from the effects of the global recession may well take yet another hit.
But is that justified?

Fiji has not changed by any stretch of the imagination.
It is as beautiful and pristine as ever. And contrary to what the travel advisories may suggest, safety may have even improved due to the enhanced presence of the Police and the Military on the streets. Plus, keep in mind that everybody in Fiji is aware that Tourism is the main income earner and consequently, no Tourist has ever been injured during any of the past coups and political upheavals. And yes there will be a short political vacuum until the necessary appointments have been made - but the Institutions are in place and will continue to perform and life will take its course as always.
Should you shun Suva in case that there should be demonstrations? Obviously, after all one has to be smart and not go looking for unnecessary trouble! Not only in Fiji!

What has also not changed is the legendary genuine friendliness and hospitality of the Fijian people which is cited time after time by visitors as the single most memorable experience of their visit to the country, as witnessed by the many according comments in our guest book.
Our incomparable staff are looking forward to welcoming you!

Obviously, one may choose to stay away for political reasons.
If so, you are certainly entitled to your ethical and political imperatives.
But like the sanctions that are already being imposed, this will impact the welfare of the ordinary citizens and change nothing on the political front. Already, occupancy rates are extremely low and many employees in the hospitality sector are faced with reduced working hours and outright redundancies.

Luckily, so far, not us: as a niche player in the Adventure Travel sector we're doing reasonably well and are even continuing to expand our services. And the Sharks couldn't care less and continue to turn up in ever increasing numbers!
Fingers crossed!

You may argue that being directly involved, I must be biased.
But consider this: I am moving back to Fiji from Tonga and the present developments will change nothing to my decision. On the contrary, I'm planning to transfer some funds to Fiji in order to make a personal contribution to helping the country move forward.

As I said, this is all knee-jerk.
But I'm sure that tomorrow, I would say the exact same thing.

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