Fiji Hotel And Tourism Association Calls For More Incentives For Hotel Investment

Number of hotel beds not keeping up with number of airline seats

By Felix Chaudhary

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 20, 2017) – The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association says there is a need for more incentives to encourage investment by new and existing hoteliers to increase room numbers and add further value to their properties.

Association CEO Fantasha Lockington said an article which appeared in this newspaper on June 11 quoting FHTA president Dixon Seeto as saying investment in the tourism sector "seems to have slowed down in recent years" was taken out of context.

In the article, Mr Seeto, was quoted as saying there is a need to ensure that re-fleeting plans by Fiji Airways are matched by the number of hotel beds available for travellers.

Mrs Lockington said the lack of incentives provided to hoteliers made it difficult for them to fund improvements and extensions, and this was what Mr Seeto was referring to when he made the comments.

"Previously available incentives provided under the Hotel Aids Investment Act (HAIA) and the Short Life Investment Program (SLIP) had features that assisted both current and new investors to continue to invest in Fiji," she said.

"Prior to 2016 there were investment incentives that made it more affordable for existing hotels to improve their product offering through the SLIP, which allowed accelerated depreciation of 55 per cent of the capital cost of the project and duty concessions for imported items to be used in the hotel.

"This incentive was reduced to 25 per cent in 2016 and eliminated in 2017.

"It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for existing hotels to fund required improvements and extensions and entice new hotel businesses without these incentives.

"The association's president was highlighting these challenges when he indicated that 'investment seemed to have slowed'."

Mrs Lockington said incentives to encourage more investment were also needed because of the perception from international visitors that Fiji was a high-cost destination.

Fiji Times Online.
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