LOOKING AFTER COMFORT OF FIJI’S BACKPACKERS

Editorial

Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Dec. 8) – Tourists expect nothing less than the best as regards facilities provided for them.

The service, hotel room, food, recreational facilities and transport have to meet their expectation if they are to return for more.

Everything we provide for their money has to be the best we can offer if we are to remain competitive in the regional tourism market.

From the five five-star hotels to the backpackers’ facilities on a remote island, or village, our guests deserve the best attention.

There have been concerns raised for sometime on the standard of service and facilities provided for backpackers. Because many of the facilities are located in remote islands and rural areas, not much attention is given to the quality of service and facility provided.

Backpackers’ accommodations have grown over the past few years because of the demand for cheaper facilities. And it is mostly young people who prefer to live in dormitory-style facilities sharing showers and cooking facilities.

The Fiji Visitors Bureau estimates that up to 20 per cent of visitors prefer the backpackers’ facilities. It is a significant portion of the market, which has to be given the attention it needs.

The Government has drawn up guidelines designed to maintain the standard of service provided for backpackers. This follows concerns raised that despite assistance by the Government through grants, some backpacker projects are not meeting satisfactory standards. Tourism Minister Pita Nacuva says in some cases, the construction of small backpacker bure - or dormitories - often cannot meet the water and sanitation requirements when fully occupied. We agree with him that standards need to be set to ensure such operations are clean, comfortable and secure.

Because of its popularity, some operators will be tempted to make quick cash from this growing segment of the tourism industry without giving due care to the safety and welfare of the guests.

Safety and security of the visitors are just as important as the quality of service and facilities provided. Some of the accommodations do not enjoy the sort of security arrangements provided at the bigger hotels and resorts. But that should not lessen the importance of keeping them safe and secure.

Apart from the regular checks on these backpackers’ operations, there is a need to educate the operators on how best to run their businesses - putting emphasis on the health, safety and security issues mentioned above. They may lack the experience and skills required to provide the service and facility their guests expect.

Tourism is vital to us. We just have to do everything to keep our guests smiling and satisfied.

December 9, 2005

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

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