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Minister advises against over-reliance on Australia, New Zealand

By Maciu Bolaitamana SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug, 21, 2010) - Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Tourism Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum has stressed the importance of Fiji’s tourism industry changing its attitude and being more receptive and welcoming to the 600,000 tourists expected to visit our shores by the end of the year.

"We need to obviously grow our numbers from Australia and New Zealand that constitutes 61 percent of numbers coming to Fiji," he told delegates to the 2010 Fiji Tourism Forum at Plantation Island Resort.

"But the objective should be to reduce the percentage. We grow the numbers but reduce the percentage because we need to spread our risk and it is very simple," Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"And if we are to spread our risk, we need to look at other resource markets.

"We are focusing in on China, India, Middle East but also Europe given that connectivity that we now have.

"But what does that mean? It means a change in attitude."

He said change must come right from the person who is at the Immigration counter.

"Because Chinese and Indians get visas on arrival, are we still going to see them as mafia, are we still going to see them as people peddling drugs?"

"When they come out of the airport, the taxi drivers, what are their attitudes towards them? What is the attitude of our hotel staff towards them? Do we still see them as ‘kai china’ (from China) or kai dia (from India)?"

"What is our attitude towards them?" he asked.

He said these are very fundamental and pertinent issues that need to be addressed well.

"Because we may be able to get a plane full of Indians and Chinese but if they do not treated well as tourists, as they should be, and they paid top dollars for it, they are going to quickly go back and say, ‘Don’t go to Fiji’."

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