The Fijian Tourism Expo 2018 was canceled due to Cyclone Keni. // © 2018 Volivoli Beach Resort
Feature image (above): North American arrivals to Fiji are up. // © 2018 Sheraton Fiji Resort
The Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) 2018, which was scheduled to run from April 10-12, was cancelled on Saturday, April 7, following the confirmation of an impending cyclone by Fiji Meteorology Service.
By the time Cyclone Keni, a Category 3 storm, arrived on Tuesday, April 10, the 100 buyers (of 300 total expected attendees) who were in Fiji ahead of the conference were already home. Tourism Fiji worked closely and tirelessly with Fiji Airways to ensure that both hosted and non-hosted delegates were rebooked to return home from Nadi International Airport (NAN) no later than Monday, April 9. Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand cancelled flights out of NAN for Tuesday, April 10.
Tourism Fiji is currently considering alternate plans for connecting its buyers with suppliers later this year.
Is It Cyclone Season in Fiji?
Fiji was already hit by Category 1 Cyclone Josie a week before FTE, so flooding and attendee safety with the impending Cyclone Keni was a major concern, especially given recent events. Fiji was hard hit in February 2016 by Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 cyclone that took 44 lives and caused major damages to hotels and island infrastructure.
Many delegates were surprised by the arrival of Cyclone Keni because April is considered the beginning of peak travel season, and the time of year is thus presumably late for cyclones and stormy weather. However, cyclone season runs through Fiji’s summer months, ranging from November through April.
“Fiji is a beautiful, easily accessible year-round destination,” said representatives for Tourism Fiji. “Similar to many destinations throughout the world, the destination is affected by weather from time to time. We always recommend to our travel advisors to encourage their clients to purchase travel insurance in the event that they need to rebook their vacation.”
Tourism Fiji also recommends that advisors keep up-to-date about weather concerns by monitoring resources such as Fiji Meteorology Service, Fiji Airways and Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association.
During my stay in Fiji, I relied on NaDraki Weather’s Facebook page, which is updated with real-time alerts and written in an accessible style with plenty of practical tips.
Otherwise, Fiji Is Having a Successful Year
FTE 2018 was set to be a joyous occasion.
“North America has experienced a sharp increase in arrivals over the past several years,” Tourism Fiji said. “From 2013 to 2017, North American arrivals increased 39 percent (by 26,051 passengers).”
Last year, Fiji experienced an increase of 15 percent from North America alone.
“We remain cautiously optimistic that arrivals will continue on this trend,” Tourism Fiji said.
Buoyed by these strong arrival numbers, Tourism Fiji is focusing on specific travel verticals, including luxury, family and adventure (including diving).
“With so many experiences throughout the country, we truly feel that Fiji has something for everyone, and we will continue to educate the travel trade community on these unique experiences and offerings,” Tourism Fiji said. “We are working closely with our tour operator and consortia partners to ensure that the travel advisor community is well-versed on Fiji and what the destination has to offer.”