December 2012/January 2013 : Talk of the trade
Fiji goes for Asian MICE
By Natasha Dragun
Following success in the leisure market, the island nation of Fiji is putting strategies in place to attract more business travellers and event planners in the near future.
According to Dixon Seeto, the President of the Fiji Islands Hotel & Tourism Association, Australia and New Zealand remain the country’s most important MICE markets, although the bureau is hoping to grow Asian business by establishing a presence in Hong Kong in end-2012, as well as improving countrywide infrastructure.
The archipelago’s largest conference facility has a current capacity of 400 people. A new convention centre, casino and luxury hotel complex on Denarau Island, just offshore from Nadi, is set to grow this to 1,500 people.
Seeto said that the bureau had been targeting medical, tourism and hospitality industries to host conferences in the destination to supplement the growing incentives market.
The first phase of development will see 190 luxury rooms, three restaurants and a sports bar open, while the second phase will add more accommodations, a nightclub and other entertainment venues. There will also be a 1,500-seat convention centre with fully equipped banquet and catering capabilities.
A smaller convention centre and casino have also been also earmarked for Suva, Fiji’s capital city.
Other hotel developments span the main island of Viti Levu as well as a number of offshore islets: just north of Nadi, Naisoso Island will soon be home to the five-star Peppers Naisoso Island Resort; off the Coral Coast, the Yadua Bay Resort & Villas development will offer an upscale hotel; in Suva, the historic Grand Pacific Hotel is preparing to re-open in 2013 after being left derelict for decades; and Mana Island Resort and Spa recently opened a new conference and convention centre.
Air Pacific is also keen to court more corporate clients, having recently announced details of its rebranding and fleet upgrade.