Opening of the Rosie Holidays New Event Warehouse.
June 6, 2018 Namaka Industrial Complex, Nadi.
The Managing Director of the Rosie Travel Group, Mr. Tony Whitton;
Pastor Thomas Harris;
The Directors, Senior Managers of Rosie Holiday and the team from Rosie Events;
Invited Guests, including the Chiefs and landowners of Namaka;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.
Vinaka vakalevu Pastor Thomas Harris for your spiritual reflection and Biblical reference to the storehouse and the reassurance that as long as God is always first, the store house will always be overflowing. This is a fitting metaphor at the opening of this new warehouse. I also wish to thank the Whitton family for the invitation to officially launch your new product.
In 2017, I had the pleasure of meeting the lady of whom this warehouse is named after – Rosie Whitton. The occasion was the Investiture ceremony for the 2016 National Honours and Awards recipients where Mrs. Whitton was awarded the Officer of the Order of Fiji, an order bestowed on individuals for their distinguished service to our Nation. Mrs. Whitton started a tour company in 1974 with her husband Mr. Roy Whitton with only two drivers. That venture has grown to become what is now a multi-award winning company in excellent delivery and equipped with a range of transport services, among others.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, Rosie is the most awarded and recognised travel brand in the South Pacific. It is an iconic multi-million-dollar Travel Group that spans the globe, providing employment to over 600 people. It is Fiji’s largest Travel Company and operates a diverse portfolio of tourism investments, including transportation, inbound tourism, retail travel, overseas wholesaling and hotel resort ownership and development. In over 44 years since its establishment, and true to the Fijian-made branding, the company is, impressively, still a 100 percent Fijian-owned family business. The name is synonymous with everything that is wonderful about the brand Fiji. I understand that Mrs. Whitton is in Australia today as part of her annual medical check-up. I wish her good health and continued prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen, Fiji’s tourism industry contributes 30 percent of the Fijian Gross Domestic Product, substantiating the importance the industry to Fiji and the Fijian people. One only has to look around the Nadi vicinity, including off-island destinations and the Coral Coast, to witness the growth of tourism, evident in new resorts opening and the increased number of Fiji Airways flights to key destinations. This is complemented by other international carriers arriving and departing at the Nadi International Airport.
The Fijian Government is committed to raising Fiji’s tourism standards and continuing to increase visitor arrivals and foreign exchange earnings. An allocation of $99.3 million was recently announced in the 2018-2019 National Budget for the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, of which 46 percent is allocated to the tourism sector. To foster the sustainable development of this crucial economic driver, the Fijian Government, through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, is constantly engaging with industry stakeholders, including Fiji Airways, to have more source markets for our tourism arrivals. Fiji receives the largest portion of visitors to the Pacific. In 2017, 39.4% of all visitors to the region, visited Fiji. Ongoing initiatives involve expanding international marketing programmes to maintain Fiji’s strong position in global tourism. The Tourism Fiji Marketing Grant continues global branding initiatives in target markets to ensure that Fiji remains a top tourism destination and maintains its growth in the tourism sector.
In addition, Fiji’s hosting of several international sporting events such as the Super Rugby Games and the Fiji International Golf Tournament, among others, leverages Fiji’s image as a sport tourism destination and the broadcast of these international events to viewers across the world, showcasing Fiji’s profile as a premium sporting destination.
At this juncture, it is only appropriate that I mention Fiji Airways’ introduction of three flights per week between Narita in Japan and Nadi which commenced just three days ago on 3rd July.
The introduction of these flights will increase the traffic of Japanese holidaymakers and business visitors to our shores. Vinaka vakalevu Fiji Airways.
The upgrade of our International Airport, which was officially opened last month by the Honourable Prime Minister, along with full service destination management companies like Rosie Holidays, will also augur well for the growth of the industry. In 2017, over two million passengers came through our International Airport and that number will continue to grow.
Ladies and gentlemen, the benefits from the influx of visitor numbers are not limited to the people who own tourism-based businesses or the growing number of people directly employed by them, they also filter down to market vendors, taxi drivers, our traditional craftsmen and craftswomen and other auxiliary services. I am informed that the Fijian tourism industry is growing faster than the world average of 3.9 percent.
In 2017, despite our challenge with cyclones including Tropical Cyclone Winston - the strongest cyclone to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere a year earlier, our visitor arrivals grew by 6.4 percent. The Fijian Government has also set a target of growing the Tourism industry into a $2.2 billion industry by 2021. However, with the current growth, we are experiencing and tourism earnings currently sitting at $1.8 billion, we expect to achieve this target well before 2021. For a small island nation like Fiji, this is quite impressive.
But there is always room for improvement. We must continue to capitalize on opportunities and meet changing market demands. We must continue to ask ourselves the following questions:
• How can we get our visitors to stay longer, thereby spending more?
• How can we attract tourists from international markets?
• How can we target new market niches that can deliver visitors that will spend more than our normal leisure visitors?
Ladies and gentlemen, the answers to some of these questions are possibly inside this warehouse today, as Rosie Events partners with our national airline, Tourism Fiji and the hotels represented in this room to attract more high-value spenders in the niche Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events space, or as often referred to as the M.I.C.E market. This new warehouse will soon be full with over 250,000 items and props that Rosie deploys as part of their event theming and management services, in partnership with the major conferences hotels. Rosie Events provides event management, styling, entertainment, offsite theming, team building and trade displays for the overseas M.I.C.E business. Fiji Airways brings in these big groups. Rosie Holidays manages the ground logistics and events, and partners with the hotels to provide the accommodation and meeting spaces.
Ladies and gentlemen, this $5 million-dollar investment, sends a clear signal to the international markets that Rosie Events is serious about delivering world-class event solutions to international professional conference organisers. While Fiji is famous for families and honeymooners, 2 percent of our total visitors to Fiji come as part of the lucrative M.I.C.E market. Tourism New Zealand recently undertook an economic survey on the M.I.C.E market and established that M.I.C.E visitors, on average, spend three times more per day on accommodation, food, beverage and excursions as do normal leisure visitors. It is this market that Rosie Events is targeting. Not only is this segment high spending, but these global brands when coming to Fiji, always mandate a particular day when they visit a community be it a school, orphanage, village or hospital to serve and give back.
In talking to Ms. Brigid Whitton this morning, I understand that in the last five months, over $200,000 has been donated to schools and local communities from these major global brands. It is these values that continue to elevate tourism as a vital industry for our beloved Fiji, a force for good that can improve the social and economic wellbeing of every Fijian. This $5 million-dollar investment today will also provide 10 more new jobs, and trial for the very first time a new inventory management system that will be located in the cloud. Every item in this warehouse, whether in stock or out in the field, will be tracked by an online inventory system easily assessed on any device or smart phone. Such innovation and investment of this scale might be expected of a major hotel chain or international investor, but it has come from a 100 percent, Fijian company owned by the Whitton family. While the last decade has seen a tremendous change in the tourism industry as a result of new markets, increased competition and advances in aviation and technology, the current environment is laced with fast-paced changes and opportunities for the well prepared. Rosie Holidays seems to be a company that is well prepared. It has an innovative team, and I am delighted to be here this morning to mark another milestone in the history of this Fijian company.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to also reveal for the very first time, a refreshed Rosie Holidays logo as part of its branding refresh programme. The refreshed livery will be rolled out in the coming months.
On behalf of Government and the Fijian people, I congratulate the Whitton family for your achievement, and I wish you and your business partners, all the best in your new direction.
Vinaka vakalevu, thank you, and may Almighty God continue to bless our beloved nation - Fiji.