FIJI TOURISM EARNINGS DROP 13 PERCENT

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Visitors from U.S., Australia, New Zealand plummet

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, October 6, 2009) – Fiji’s tourism earnings for the first quarter of this year are expected to drop by 13.2 percent, compared to the same period last year, the Bureau of Statistics has revealed.

It’s latest data showed that gross earnings from the sector is provisionally estimated at $167.6 million, [US$87 million] representing a decrease of $25.4 million [US$13.2 million] compared to the gross earnings of $193 million [US$100 million] in last year’s first quarter.

"Quarter 1 2009 also saw a decrease in tourist arrivals from 130,762 in Quarter 1 2008 to 100,331. This is a decrease of 23.3 percent," the statistics bureau said.

Visitor arrivals details for the quarter showed that there were drops in visitor numbers from Australia and the United States of America, each recording significant declines of 25.2 percent and 41.9 percent respectively.

Depressed figures were also recorded for New Zealand visitors, which dropped by 34 percent, Canada (down 30 percent), the United Kingdom, dropping by 25.9 percent, South Korea, down 7.2 percent and the Pacific Islands, which decreased by 6.9 percent.

Increases in visitor numbers were recorded for Taiwan (up 36 percent), Japan (up 15.4 percent) and Continental Europe (up 11.6 percent).

According to the Bureau’s data, Fiji achieved record tourism earnings last year, at $853 million, compared to $784.2 million in 2007.

Meanwhile, hotels in Fiji’s tourism belt have been enjoying a rise in tourist arrivals over the past three months, particularly from Australia, according to one hotelier.

"Compared to this time last year Fiji was struggling with 30-40 percent arrivals shared by hotels scattered all over the western coast and islands off Viti Levu," said Malolo Island Resort general manager Nasoni Tamani.

"Now I can confidently say that the arrival of visitors to our shores is one that we are happy about. We are enjoying 80-90 percent occupancy for over the last three months and that is an indication that tourists want to come to Fiji."

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