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Country has ‘huge potential’ but lacks facilities

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 23, 2010) - Fiji has huge potential in attracting yachters but it must be made a safer destination to transit and infrastructure must be improved.

Port Denarau Marina Managing Director Nigel Skeggs said this market was relatively untapped.

"There is also a huge opportunity for small charter yachts, he said. Fiji has no bareboat charter business whereas Tonga has over 80 boats. This is because Fiji is very poorly charted and most of the navigation marks are missing or in poor repair," said Mr Skeggs.

He said the yachting industry now accounted for 8 per cent of the total tourism dollars spent in Fiji.

He added that the 22 super yachts that visited the Port Denarau Marina spent in excess of FJ$2.5million [US$1.4 million] with three vessels spending in excess of FJ$250,000 [US$140,000] during their stay.

He said according to their data, 150 yachts visited the Port Denarau Marina while Savusavu had 379 visiting vessels.

Mr. Skeggs said Port Denarau Marina undertook a survey to find out the impact of the yachts coming in the country and the income generated from them.

He said at this stage they received a 30 per cent response to the survey and the survey would continue.

"The survey is to ascertain the value of the yachting industry to tourism in Fiji," he said.

He said they were seeing a steady increase in arrivals of yachts to Fiji and this was a good sign for the industry.

"The yachting season is from May to November, he said. We have very few visits during the cyclone season."

Most of the yachts are from Australia and New Zealand.

Responses to the survey show that yacht arrivals to Fiji made a great impact on the industry at the marina, said Mr. Skeggs.

One of the respondents of the survey said this year saw an increase in the size of vessels visiting Fiji. The respondent believed that this was partially linked to the new facilities installed at Port Denarau Marina.

The respondent added that many customers now felt more comfortable with mooring their vessels and having better access to facilities and it had also led to vessels extending their stay for the entire season rather than just a couple of months.

According to the respondent new companies have formed as a result and many companies have increased their staff numbers.

Meanwhile the president of the Fiji Yachting Association, Tony Philp said Fiji could attract more yachts to its shores.

Mr. Philp said the market was for about 900 to 1000 yachts but Fiji had not been able to tap into the market.

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