Bula, Fiji is waiting for you

The Pacific island nation is eager to welcome guests back after a challenging 18 months – and investment opportunities are just as enticing as the hospitable smiles.

As Waterfront went to print, Fiji’s borders were about to reopen to visitors from many countries, with rigorous planning, and support from airlines and accommodation providers to uphold the stringent health protocols underpinning the relaunch.

With around 40 percent of Fiji's GDP stemming from tourism-related activity, its people can’t wait to see guests arrive and discover that beautiful Fiji is even better than before – if that was possible!

Philip Toogood, managing director and partner of Bayleys Real Estate (Fiji) Limited, says as hard as the travel pause and health ramifications arising from the global pandemic have been for Fiji, it has provided the opportunity for a reset and he’s confident that Fiji is poised for great things.

“We’re rapidly approaching 90-plus percent thresholds for double vaccinations in Fiji and there is a widespread philosophy of ‘no jab’ no job’ wh“Pre-pandemic, Fiji was the most popular mid-market holiday destination for Australians and New Zealanders and with travel to Europe and other far-flung destinations severely restricted, and having layers of uncertainty, Fiji will be exponentially appealing as a place to holiday for a broader base.ich has prompted the fantastic uptake,” he explains.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of Fiji and the people have been bereft without visitor interactions so they’re very keen to see New Zealanders return once it is deemed safe to do so.

“The resilience and commitment of the Fijian people to stay the distance with limits on their personal freedoms has shone through, but I know that once the airport starts humming again and the resorts fill with holidaymakers – all with meticulous procedures in place – they’ll have smiles for miles.”

Toogood says throughout the pandemic, enquiry from investors and development entities has remained robust and he predicts Fiji’s credentials will make investment an even-stronger proposition now.

“Pre-pandemic, Fiji was the most popular mid-market holiday destination for Australians and New Zealanders and with travel to Europe and other far-flung destinations severely restricted, and having layers of uncertainty, Fiji will be exponentially appealing as a place to holiday for a broader base.

“Whether that’s as a guest at a resort, or as the owner of a property on one of the islands – being just a few hours’ flight away from New Zealand will be invaluable.

“I think many people who had been seduced by Hawaii, New York, Europe or the Greek Isles as ultimate destinations will be reassessing their priorities and recognising that Fiji with its abundance of space and easy access can fulfil the brief for an amazing stay.

“Wall-to-wall people in European tourist hotspots, for example, is not going to cut it in the new world we find ourselves in.”

Bayleys Fiji is in the process of closing some significant property deals – several have been two-three years in the making – and Toogood says he sees huge potential in the condominium development market, alongside the resort sector, as New Zealanders again see value in Fiji.

“The ownership models seen on the Gold Coast and Hawaii will translate well to the Fiji property market and I think we’ll see more flexible arrangements happening within both the branded and non-branded segments.

“This also creates opportunity for property management companies to step up and provide a seamless service for New Zealand owners who will be wanting flexibility around stay times and access.

“Fiji is about to find a new gear and there’s room for all manner of private investment.”

Recently-appointed CEO of Tourism Fiji, Brent Hill says Fiji is as pristine as ever with an abundance of fresh air and space – exactly what the world needs as we emerge out of the shadow of COVID.

“We are rapidly becoming one of the most highly vaccinated holiday destinations in the world, and with our plethora of beautiful wide open spaces offering the relaxation and safety that tourists want, Fiji will rise to the top of travel wish lists,” he says.

“Pent up demand is real and the desire to discover, explore and experience has not been dimmed – particularly among our closest neighbours New Zealand and Australia, who have been under restrictive orders for an extended time.

“Our ‘bula’ spirit just can’t be replicated, and is the perfect respite to a jaded, tired and over-worked population, in desperate need of some genuine relaxation.”

Along with safe, seamless travel, Hill says Fiji will perhaps be better value than ever before, as a range of initiatives sweep through the industry making a luxurious stay even more accessible.

“Many resorts and Kiwi favourite places to stay have taken the time to upgrade, enhance, open new wings and facilities, bars, restaurants, dive sites and create new experiences – there’s a whole host of exciting things to rediscover in Fiji,” says Hill.

“As tourists become more aware of environmental responsibilities, there has been a solid push into sustainable tourism – and this is strongly represented in Fiji.

“There’s been a gradual, collective push towards products and properties that encourage responsible consumerism – from involvement in coral farming, to off-grid resorts, eco-friendly materials and power, marine parks and regeneration.

“Fiji is doing all it can to ensure guests play a role in keeping Fiji as beautiful as ever, for generations to come.”

The wider integration of Fijian culture into the tourism offering is also happening with Hill saying many visitors staying at resorts haven’t taken the opportunity to travel to Vanua Levu, or explore the highlands, rivers, treks and inland activities.

“We’d love them to experience some of Fiji’s most unexpected treasures – like our emerging fashion industry, artisan products, and the burgeoning food scene – and it is our aim that every tourist who comes to Fiji leaves with a true sense of what Fiji is.”

This evolving food scene is epitomised at KANU, Philip and Julie Toogood’s favourite restaurant, where chef Lance Seeto celebrates the essence of Fiji by using native ingredients and traditional techniques to create a contemporary dining experience for guests.

“The exploration of Fijian culture through food will add yet another string to the archipelago’s multi-faceted bow,” says Bayleys’ ambassador Toogood.

“Open hearts, big smiles, the ultimate in relaxation – it’s all here, along with an opportunity for investment unparalleled in the Pacific.”

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