FIJI: The New Summer Destination – TheGlitz Getaway

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paradise Cove Resort, Fiji

Is planning your annual summer vacation a daunting task? Welcome to Fiji.

An archipelago of 333 islands in the South Pacific, known for its postcard perfect beaches, pristine waters and lavish cordiality. What is undeniable is that the island, famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches, and coral reefs with clear lagoons, is the epitome of paradise. There is something about a vacation in Fiji that seems to bring out the romantic side of everyone. The scent of the South Pacific sea breeze mixed with the fragrance of frangipani means that love is always in the air.

Fiji makes for a perfect summer getaway. The Cyan blue waters and talcum white beaches simply make you lose sight of the importance of time. It’s a place where the people are flawlessly polite and more glowing than the sun, where time slows down to rest, two hours truly mean three, and five genuinely mean seven.

A good deal of Fiji’s charm lies in exploring numerous islands, snorkelling in the blue lagoon, admiring the extraordinarily great Astrobale Reef, and hiking through the lush forests and cliffs. Enjoy kava ceremonies and take a step back in time with Fiji’s traditional Meke culture. Discover the underwater wilderness with customised shark dives alongside instructors while bicycling along the coral coast in Viti Levu, or better yet, just lie around on the beach and see the world pass by. Compared to most other countries in the Pacific, this island nation even offers unspoiled, Instagram-worthy scenery to boot.

TheGlitz Getaway #StampingMemories is carrying out a series of interviews with heads of tourism boards as part of a special feature on summer travel destinations. Robert Thompson, Executive Director of Regions at Tourism Fiji, discusses the organisation’s efforts to position Fiji as the next possible island destination for Indian tourists in this exclusive conversation with TheGlitz.

Robert Thompson, Executive Director of Regions at Tourism Fiji
Robert Thompson, Executive Director of Regions at Tourism Fiji

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Robert Thompson, Executive Director of Regions at Tourism Fiji, a veteran of the tourism industry with over 20 years of destination marketing experience. My role primarily involves driving the global offices of Tourism Fiji to meet marketing and partnership objectives. Before Tourism Fiji, I held positions in other Destination Marketing Offices, gaining experience in global partnerships, brand development, and communication campaigns. I have worked directly with multiple global regions, with a focus on Australia, New Zealand, and India as source markets.

Fiji, in comparison to other island destinations, has always been viewed as superior. Would you categorise Fiji as a luxury destination or more as an experiential destination that offers authentic experiences?

Fiji is a cluster of islands in the South Pacific Ocean and boasts a variety of unique experiences and attractions that may appeal to Indian travellers. The archipelago of 333 islands is known for its stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear waters. The luxurious resorts and accommodations, some of them tucked away in idyllic pockets or on remote islands, provide a relaxing and indulgent experience for travellers seeking comfort and luxury.

The islands also provide opportunities for hiking, zip-lining, and exploring lush rainforests, as well as a range of water-based activities such as snorkelling, diving, and water sports. Lastly, the Fijians are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality. This friendly atmosphere can contribute to a positive and memorable travel experience for Indian visitors.

Fiji is a luxury destination that prioritises experiential travel, offering a unique blend of opulence, cultural immersion, and unforgettable adventures. Unlike traditional luxury vacations focused solely on lavish accommodations and fine dining, in Fiji, we prioritise authentic experiences that engage the senses and create lasting memories.

From partaking in the customary Meke (a traditional storytelling dance incorporating music and movement to convey messages from one village to another) to immersing yourself in a Fijian cooking class, there’s an array of experiences to cater to every taste. For adults, indulging in the traditional kava ceremony is bound to be a standout moment during your Fiji getaway. In Fiji, the kava ceremony is a customary ritual in every village you visit, as well as a prominent feature on your Fiji resort’s list of activities. It’s a regular occurrence for Fijian families and friends to gather daily and partake in kava together, embodying what locals fondly refer to as ‘Fiji time’.

Couple paddling out to deeper water, photo: Tourism Fiji
Couple paddling out to deeper water, photo: Tourism Fiji

How important is the Indian market for Fiji, and what emerging destination marketing trends can appeal to the Indian traveler?

In the last year, Indian arrivals to Fiji reached pre-COVID numbers for 2019, underscoring the increased appetite for premium and experience-led travel. The month of December saw the highest number of Indian arrivals in Fiji, increasing by approximately 300% over December arrivals in 2022. The average length of stay for an Indian tourist in Fiji is approx. 7.6 nights. India is one of the top 10 source markets for Fiji, with the average age of travellers varying between 30-49 years, contributing to 35% of the arrivals in Fiji, and 31% were in the age group of 50 and over.

Fiji is a honeymooner’s paradise. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, lush greenery, and luxurious resorts, it offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. From the Yasawa Islands to Mamanuca Island to the coral coasts, no matter which part of Fiji is chosen for a honeymoon, you’re sure to be surrounded by beauty and romance at every turn.

Tourism Fiji recognises the importance of multi-generational family travel in Indian culture. Hence, we are promoting the destination as a family-friendly island with multiple activities, resorts, and accommodations to attract Indian families with young children planning vacations. The emphasis is also laid on adventure activities such as water sports, diving, hiking, and eco-tourism.

The avid Indian traveller is stepping into the era of exploration and is ready to redefine destination experiences. Where sustainability is taking centre stage, Fiji is a country that values sustainability. From adopting clean energy to restoring coral reefs and protecting rare wildlife, many Fijian resorts are adopting multiple eco-friendly practices to show their love for the planet.

Another recent trend is wellness travel, which is evolving beyond spa retreats. Travellers are prioritising holistic well-being, seeking destinations that offer a balance of physical activities, mental health retreats, and rejuvenating natural environments. With sleep tourism taking importance in India’s fast-paced digital life, Fiji provides the perfect getaway to detox the body and mind.

Diver and Soft Coral; photo credit: Tourism Fiji
Diver and Soft Coral; photo credit: Tourism Fiji

When planning a trip to Fiji, what potential challenges should travellers consider regarding visas, adventure experiences, high-season travel, food, budget, exchange rates, air connectivity, and cultural differences?

Fiji is a year-round destination with a warm, comfortable sub-tropical climate. The average daily temperature consistently sits between about 26° and 31°C. There are only two seasons in Fiji: summer and winter.

Fiji boasts a variety of unique experiences and attractions that may appeal to Indian travelers. Considering the love Indians have for the sun, sea, and sand, travel to Fiji is easy and stress-free, with a free visa on arrival facility for Indian passport holders.

The neighbouring countries, like Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore, easily connect to Fiji with direct flights. This makes Fiji one of the loved destinations that can be visited as a standalone vacation destination or can be clubbed with the nearby countries.

Fiji and India share close cultural ties, primarily due to the historical migration from India to Fiji during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Fiji has a vibrant Indi-Fijian community that has preserved and contributed to Indian cultural practices, languages, and traditions while blending them with Fijian influences. Indian cuisine, with its rich flavours and spices, has become an integral part of Fijian culinary traditions. Dishes like curry, roti, and sweets are enjoyed by people of diverse backgrounds in Fiji. Indo-Fijians celebrate various Indian festivals, such as Diwali, Holi, and Eid, which have become integral parts of Fiji’s cultural tapestry. 

These festivals are celebrated with enthusiasm and participation from the broader Fijian community. These cultural ties contribute to the rich and diverse cultural mosaic of Fiji, fostering harmony and understanding among its people. The Indo-Fijian community’s contributions have become an integral part of Fiji’s national identity, showcasing the strength of cultural diversity in the country.

What are the sustainable tourism practices and environmental initiatives that are at the forefront of Fiji tourism?

Fiji Island is well known for its coral reefs and is the perfect setting for a tropical island holiday. The islands are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, with one of the most notable natural features being the extensive coral reefs, which provide a habitat for an array of marine life. Fiji’s volcanic origins have contributed to its unique landscape, with towering mountain ranges and jagged peaks that offer breath-taking views of the islands below. 

Understanding the importance of the rich biodiversity of tourism Fiji values sustainable tourism and is an active voice for climate change and ocean resource management. From adopting clean energy to restoring coral reefs and protecting rare wildlife, many Fijian resorts are adopting multiple eco-friendly practices to show their love for the planet and effectively promote responsible travel. By wearing reef-safe sunblock, buying local products, or choosing an eco-conscious resort or tour, you’re making a meaningful contribution to Fiji’s future. 

Tourism Fiji has joined as a member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), marking a significant step towards promoting sustainable tourism practices in Fiji. By becoming a member, Tourism Fiji is demonstrating its commitment to sustainable tourism development, which will not only benefit the environment but also support the local economy and communities. 

This year, Tourism Fiji gave a twist to the age-old tradition of celebrating Valentine’s Day by replacing a bouquet of red roses with a sustainable alternative in the form of a coral bouquet planting, an initiative by Tourism Fiji and Coral Gardeners. With a newly announced international hub in Fiji, headquartered at Six Senses Fiji, and a premium partnership with Tourism Fiji, Coral Gardeners Fiji is helping to regenerate and protect coral reefs through restoration and awareness efforts throughout the destination.

Photo credit: Tourism Fiji
Photo credit: Tourism Fiji

Switching gears, solo travel among Indians is getting more popular, including among women. How safe is your destination?

Fiji offers a welcoming and safe environment for solo female travellers to explore and enjoy. With its warm hospitality and friendly locals, Fiji provides an ideal destination for women seeking adventure and relaxation alike.

For solo female travellers, there are numerous options for accommodation, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts, ensuring there is something to suit every preference and budget. Many accommodations in Fiji are well-equipped with safety features and offer solo travellers a comfortable and secure stay.

Fiji’s diverse range of activities caters to various interests, whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures like snorkelling, diving, or hiking or prefer more laid-back experiences such as lounging on pristine beaches or indulging in spa treatments. Additionally, joining group tours or excursions can be a great way for solo female travellers to meet fellow adventurers and explore the beauty of Fiji together.

Fiji’s culture is rich and vibrant, offering solo female travellers the opportunity to immerse themselves in local traditions and customs. From attending traditional ceremonies and cultural performances to sampling delicious Fijian cuisine, there are endless opportunities to connect with the local community and learn about Fiji’s fascinating history and heritage.

Overall, Fiji is a fantastic destination for solo female travellers looking to experience adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion in a safe and welcoming environment. With its breath-taking natural beauty, warm hospitality, and diverse range of activities, Fiji is sure to leave solo female travellers with unforgettable memories and experiences.

Finally, your message to TheGlitz readers who are considering Fiji as a potential tourist destination.

We at Tourism Fiji are thrilled to welcome you to the enchanting allure of Fiji, nestled in the heart of the South Pacific, with its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture. For those seeking an escape from the ordinary, Fiji offers a paradise like no other. Imagine yourself lounging on secluded white-sand beaches, surrounded by crystal-clear turquoise waters that stretch as far as the eye can see. 

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie craving heart-pounding adventures or a soul in need of tranquil moments of relaxation, Fiji has something for everyone. It isn’t just about stunning landscapes and exhilarating activities—it’s also about the warmth of its people and the richness of its culture. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be welcomed with open arms by the friendly locals, eager to share their traditions, stories, and smiles with you.

Immerse yourself in the rhythm of Fiji time as you savour mouth-watering local cuisine, dance to the beat of traditional Fijian music, and participate in age-old customs like the revered kava ceremony. Let the magic of Fiji awaken your senses and rejuvenate your spirit as you create memories that will last a lifetime.

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