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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Statements by Government at the Fiji Tourism Forum 2007

Read below the positions given by the Interim Minister of Finance and the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji at the Fiji Tourism Forum 2007 currently being held at the Shangri-La Resort, Sigatoka, Fiji. The articles are taken from the Fiji Times, Saturday, 23 June 2007.

"Find your own funds, says Chaudhry, Saturday, June 23, 2007

The tourism industry must be responsible for finding its own marketing funds, says interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry.

"How long will you expect the Government to carry the marketing burden," he asked tourism stakeholders at the industry's forum.

"The industry should stand on its own feet."

"Let Government not be one of the key drivers of your marketing efforts.

"You are a private sector with many stakeholders."

He was responding to questions on what actions the Finance Ministry could take to offset the loss of income caused by the dramatic drop in tourism revenue.

Mr Chaudhry said while the interim Government would help the industry, it had to take the responsibility for doing its own marketing.

He also urged the expansion of flying destinations.

He said he had never heard of the tourism industry criticising the national airline for not flying to destinations such as London or South East Asian countries.

"It is time to get out of the box. If we can not get the aircraft to fly to other destinations, the least we could do is to negotiate code sharing arrangements," Mr Chaudhry said.

His comments followed the tourism industry's request last month for an extra $3.8million for marketing funds.

The FVB and Tourism Action Group were given $10million for marketing in the revised 2007 Budget but the interim administration had promised $15million for the bureau and $3.8m for TAG.

In March, the industry's request for another $9million was rejected by the interim administration.

Interim Tourism Minister Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau said the industry was waiting for the interim Government's response on the submission for $3.8million."

"Fiji in crisis: RBF, Saturday, June 23, 2007

Fiji is in a state of crisis, says the Reserve Bank, and its exports are expected to remain flat in most industries.

The analysis was presented by RBF deputy governor Sada Reddy at a panel discussion at the Fiji Tourism Forum 2007 at the Shangri-la Fijian Resort in Sigatoka.

He said the bank's prediction of negative economic growth remained because the economy was not performing.

The forecast of negative growth of two and half per cent was expected to remain, he said.
"Using figures available to us in January and February, we forecast a growth of negative 2.5 per cent for this year," he said.

"These figures are currently under review. But information available to us says this is expected to remain."

Mr Reddy said with only one or two export industries performing well, exports were expected to remain flat.

"We cannot see any of the other sectors growing in terms of exports. Except for one or two industries such as Fiji Water, all the others are flat," he said.

He said imports continued to grow but following recent policies put in place by the central bank, there was a decrease in imports of five per cent.

Still, imports were strong because exports were not doing well, Mr Reddy said.

He said Fiji had a trade deficit of $2billion and tourism and remittances had been bridging the gap.

Mr Reddy said the central bank could not see potential in any other sector apart from tourism. He said recent policies put in place by the central bank were to protect foreign reserves.

He said submissions had been made by industries and commercial banks on the restriction of policies but these industries needed to understand the situation.

"If we do not handle this crisis, I call it a crisis, because we are in a situation where we had to put in policies," he said.

He said there was a need for the sectors to understand the policies put in place and work together, to avoid harsher policies. He said the restrictions were placed after much thinking.

Mr Reddy said tourism was the only industry which had huge immediate and potential benefits in terms of helping in this period of economic difficulty.

Last year, tourism brought in $742million in gross foreign receipts and visitor arrivals were 545,000.

Mr Reddy said foreign receipts were forecast at $670million this year with around 500,000 visitor arrivals.

He said occupancy rates were still very low and urgent measures should be placed to improve occupancy."

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