Strong Support for South Pacific Tourism

Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE)

By: By Geoff Smith

The recent (June 4-6) Bula Fiji Tourism Exchange (BFTE) demonstrated that South Pacific tourism had a strong following with most delegates optimistic about future growth in the region.

According to BFTE’s president, David Voss, the 13th annual event was successful despite bad weather. He paid tribute to the venue, The Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa on the Coral Coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, and its staff, all of whom coped "extremely well despite adverse conditions."

About 650 buyer and seller delegates attended what has become the largest tourism event in the South Pacific. "Buyers" represented Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Korea, France, Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, China and New Caledonia. "Sellers", including the host nation, Fiji, represented Samoa and American Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti and Tonga, Niue and Norfolk Island, New Caledonia and Kiribati.

"The organising committee was extremely pleased with the quality of the event and those who participated in what was a very smooth exercise," Mr Voss said. "Planning for 2009 is underway and we will shortly be calling for tenders for next year’s venue."

With a workforce that started at eight and finished with 16 including president David Voss, this year’s BFTE village was the first to have a fixed, solid roof instead of the thatching of previous years, a fortunate decision considering weather conditions.

Two hundred 3x2-metre booths were built over four locations including a former plants nursery and a Rugby pitch. Each booth was fitted with overhead fans, full power and radio speakers.

The BFTE village, which was designed for use in 2009 and beyond, took six weeks to build for a three-day event and two weeks to dismantle for storage.