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Deep discounts attract budget travelers with little to spend

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 1, 2009) - WHILE the tourism industry has been earmarked as Fiji's saviour during the economic crisis, calls have been made to consider the spending habits of tourists and its contribution to the economy.

Asian Development Bank public financial management specialist Laisiasa Tora made the call during a presentation on the global economic crisis at Natadola in Sigatoka yesterday.

He told delegates at the joint Fiji-Australia Business Council Australia-Fiji Business Council forum that discounted holiday packages offered in an attempt to lure tourists and boost arrivals would not completely favour the economy.

Mr. Tora said the huge discounts instead attracted a new group of tourists, who spent less money for a Fiji holiday. He said although tourist arrival numbers had improved since July, there was a need to consider the spending habits of tourists who now chose Fiji as a holiday destination.

Also making a presentation at the forum was Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Sada Reddy, who said the tourism sector was expected to recover sooner than other industries affected by the global economic crisis. With Fiji's economy being on track with the recovery progress, Mr. Reddy said they remained optimistic the tourism industry would lead the country to recovery.

"There is uncertainty in terms of size and speed of recovery but it is expected that it will be about 12 to 18 months for Fiji's economy to benefit from the global economic recovery," he said.

Mr Reddy said Fiji and Australia's trade relationship was healthy but had the capacity to grow stronger.

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