However, it is the trade engagement rather than numbers that has particularly impressed Tourism Fiji.
‘They are asking questions; they all want to know how the product is going and what’s new. They want to know these things because clients are asking about them.’
Lawson says that though some of the attendees are new to the industry, the roadshows have definitely attracted more experienced agents.
‘That’s not unexpected, because none of them have been to Fiji for two or three years and they are wanting a refresh. That’s why it is so important to have these opportunities to update them.’
She adds that luxury and high-end properties are receiving enquiries at levels not experienced from this market before.
‘There has been a perception that New Zealanders are not high spenders but we are totally dispelling that myth. Even the three-and-a-half star properties are telling us that Kiwis are spending more than other markets.’
Lawson says that Tourism Fiji was initialy predicting the country would return to pre-Covid vistor numbers by 2024. It is now clear that from new Zealand, those numbers will be reached during 2023.
‘We are short haul, well known and understood by Kiwis. We have the infrastructure and air capacity we need and we are grateful that we are getting fantastic support from the trade. So the stars have aligned.’
Beyond flopping – Fiji enquiries diversify to include dining and activities
New Zealand travel agents are looking for information beyond family holidays and ‘sun, sea, flop’ experiences on behalf of their clients, judging by enquiries during last week’s Fiji Travel Roadshow.
Sonya Lawson, Tourism Fiji’s regional director New Zealand, says a lot of agents at the four-city event were asking about dining and activities.
‘We know activities can sometimes be hard to pre-sell but people were definitely asking about them during the roadshow. Family holidays are extremely important to Fiji but if people are looking for something else, Fiji can offer that too.
‘Diving and surfing were stand-outs when it came to enquiries and that’s fantastic because they are niche experiences we want to expand.’
Lawson says a similar trend is happening in terms of people looking for new destinations in Fiji.
‘Denarau will always be popular because of its location and its offerings, but we are also seeing increased interest in places like Savusavu and the Yasawas.'
Solid start for road show in Christchurch
Tourism Fiji and supplier partners kicked off their four city roadshow of New Zealand with an event that attracted about 60 Christchurch travel advisors to the Novotel Cathedral Square on Monday night.
On Tuesday the delegation headed north to Wellington, before stopping at Hamilton on Wednesday evening and then Auckland for an agents’ event and other activities.
As well as providing general information and updates on more than a dozen properties and other operators, the roadshow is promoting the new Matai agent training programme – agents need to register to ensure they are eligible for any prize draws during the events.
Sheryn Ambler, regional general manager New Zealand with Fiji Airways, welcomed the opportunity to again meet with Christchurch agents last night.
‘We have a really good uptake from the trade here and we see strong demand from Christchurch.’
Ambler notes that the Christchurch market has responded well to the new 737-Max product, which operates three times a week and is a year round service. ‘We’re getting great feedback about the food and service on board.’