Ten weeks after Tropical Cyclone Winston, Fiji's tourism industry is leading the nation's recovery, with 158,069 visitors in the first-quarter. That's a 10.2 per cent increase over 2015's numbers. "It is a blessing that tourism properties were spared," said Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at last week's Fijian Tourism Expo. "We are set for another bumper year, both in terms of numbers and earnings."
'Couldn't be more proud'
In Fiji, they've got a long-standing five-year plan to make the tourism sector a $2 billion-a-year industry. "We now think we can do so sooner," said Bainimarama, citing the positive spirit throughout the industry in the post-cyclone clean ups. "I couldn't be more proud of the industry as a Prime Minister under the circumstances."Kiwis to HideawayHideaway Resort reports they're up by 30 per cent on Kiwi visitors from 2015, and the new build of an adults-only resort 25 minutes north of the airport at Vuda is well underway. The 4.5 star spot is scheduled to open in April and will target the weddings market.
All hands to the pump
One of the big priorities for resort operators was to keep as many staff employed during the cyclone clean-up as possible. Their jobs get money into their communities. "We've got chefs working as building labourers," said Steve Darling, whose badly hit Volivoli Resort is aiming for a November reopening. "Everyone's just mixing in to get the job done."
Vomo Resort is also on track to reopen later in the year, with doors opening on September 1. They were already underway with a $25m rebuild that had begun last year. When guests return to the Kiwi-owned resort they'll find two special new features: The Beachhouse (a three-bedroom luxury spot) and The Palms (four bedrooms). Both beachfront. Both amazing. Many of the 32 other rooms on the property have also been renovated.
Back to Sonaisali
After an 18-month rebuild, the Hilton hotel chain launches a new resort on Sonaisali Island in Fiji on Sunday. There are 120 rooms and they've built two new restaurants. The four-star Doubletree Resort puts the island's troubled past behind it with a soft opening this weekend; a full international opening follows on June 1.
We like ...
Visiting the delights of regional New Zealand in autumn: think spending a few hours at the Eastwood Hill Arboretum near Gisborne or using the city's flash new bike trails. No crowds, empty beaches with perfect surf, settled weather and plenty of accommodation. Heaven.
We don't like ...
Peter Harwood is not a fan of the arrivals process at Auckland International Airport: "Arrived at midnight with six young grumpy grandchildren and queued [for Customs] for hours. Urgent system and service improvement needed before tourists [start avoiding] New Zealand."
Tell us what you like and don't like in the world of travel. Email TRAVEL@NZHERALD.CO.NZ