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Bula Tourism Exchange 2010

May 19, 2010       Sofitel Resort, Denarau Island, Nadi

Bula vinaka, Good evening, Namaste, Ni Hao

I would like to bid all delegates a most warm welcome to the 15th bula tourism

Tourism is indeed an important part of the South Pacific economy. Over thenext few days we hope that you will all witness what the South Pacific has to offer visitors. It is not just sun, sea & sand but the different colourful cultures of the islands, and in some cases the multi-cultural nature of some islands, which makes the South Pacific the destination people dream about.

BFTE as it is known has come a long way since its inception some fifteen years ago, in 1995. This year we have some 150 buyer delegates who are here to contract resorts, hotels, transport operators, dive companies and all the associated businesses which complement tourism in the South Pacific.

This event is the largest tourism trade show in the South Pacific. The great interest
shown in this premier event is a good indicator that the Pacific in general and the
South Pacific, in particular, is still a popular destination for holiday makers from
around the world.

Today, 11,000 kilometres north of here on the eastern coast of China, the Shanghai
Expo that Fiji and the Pacific Island countries are participating in is yet another perfect opportunity to showcase what the South Pacific has to offer our neighbours and friends in the northern hemisphere including China herself. 

That, in fact, is the whole point behind the expo, to promote and market what the rest of the world have on offer. Thanks to our great friend the People’s Republic of China, the South Pacific region is represented at the Expo in full force.

The Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau and indeed Tourism Fiji are taking full advantage of the occasion with the future in mind.  That future endeavour really began in December 2009, thanks to the foresight of the Board and Management of Air Pacific with the inaugural Air Pacific flight to Hong Kong. 

With the twice weekly Air Pacific-Cathay Pacific code share flights, together with the already established Korean Air thrice weekly flights to Seoul, these Asian destinations will, on the one hand, be gateways for Asian tourists to visit the South Pacific. 

On the other hand, they will also provide numerous opportunities and connections to Asia and Europe through Hong Kong and Seoul for the Pacific Island peoples.  In turn, these connections of people will encourage more Asian and European travelers to visit Fiji and the other Pacific Island countries.

If we promote ourselves well – and we must - as an investment destination together with the products that we have, unique though they are, whether in trade of goods and services and, indeed, in visitor arrivals, we are moving in the right direction.  The direction which will strengthen our position for elevating the socio-economic benefits that the people of the South Pacific that we serve – thoroughly deserve.

The continued support from the airlines & the tourism industry shows the commitment to increasing tourist arrivals which in turn augers well for the economies of Fiji and our pacific neighbours.

I am certain that you will all enjoy the next few days and I sincerely hope that your efforts to get here will be duly rewarded and that we will witness increased tourist arrivals in the months ahead.

In this regard, it would be remiss of me if I did not congratulate and applaud the organizers of the Bula Tourism Exchange for your very fast shuffle and your wide public relations and in inviting and hosting all our guests and particularly those travel agents from all countries including first timers from American Samoa, Brazil and China and all those of you representing other countries, who we have in our midst for the first time.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the energetic organizing committee and its erudite and dynamic chair. I also  warmly recognize and acknowledge the generosity of the sponsors for their continued effort to promote tourism in the South Pacific. The sponsors are listed on page 10 of the programme.

I am well aware and fully understand the hard work that you do at these exchanges having been closely involved myself over many years when I was Ambassador for Fiji to the United Kingdom and Germany from 1988 to 1996.  Every year I attended the World Travel Mart in London and the International Travel Bureau in Berlin.  So I am with you.

But to you all thank you for being here.

Vinaka vakalevu, Thank you, Dhanyavaad and Xie Xie