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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 13) – Fiji’s backpacker market has been decreasing in the last three years, prompting the tourism industry to conduct a study to investigate the causes.

Chief executive in the Tourism Ministry, Napolioni Masirewa, made the comments in the Fiji Tourism Resource Owners workshop organised by his ministry at the Holiday Inn yesterday.

He said backpackers made up 19 percent of the tourism market in 2002. But this fell to 17 percent in 2003 and 13 percent last year.

"It is a concern, which is why we are bringing a professor from Monash University to find out what's wrong," Mr Masirewa said.

He added that the study would also look at a long-term strategy for the market.

Mr Masirewa said worldwide the biggest growth in the tourism industry was in the backpacker market.

"There are many things that could cause it, like the standard of services or marketing, but I can't really speculate until a study is taken," Mr Masirewa said.

October 14, 2005

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