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While rebuilding efforts continued at a number of locations across Fiji following the devastating toll of Cyclone Winston in late February, business appeared to be operating as usual for many last month on the South Pacific nation’s largest island of Viti Levu, which hosted Tourism Fiji’s first annual Wedding Expo.
More than 50 Fiji-based wedding and honeymoon companies showcased a range of products and services at the consumer-focused event, held March 19 and 20 at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa on Yanuca Island. And while the two-day show attracted all sorts of interest from couples looking to tie the knot, Tourism Fiji also invited several international travel agents and media members to learn more about what’s available in the nation’s diverse romance market.
“We’ve seen huge incremental growth for weddings out of North America,” said Adeline Lee-Erasito, director of business development for Rosie Holidays, one of Fiji’s largest local tour operators. “And for honeymoons from the U.S., we’re probably looking at a good 15 percent growth year over year.”
Lee-Erasito notes that increased airlift to Fiji from the U.S. has helped boost North American arrivals.
“In the past, there were never daily flights,” she said. “Now, Fiji Airways offers daily flights from Los Angeles, and during peak periods, we even have some double dailies. Then starting in June, Fiji Airways also has San Francisco direct to Fiji, and they also have several flights a week from Honolulu.”
Fiji-born wedding stylist Erin Addison-Smith, owner of My Tropical Fiji Wedding, agrees that the island nation is hosting more destination weddings for U.S. couples.
“I think there has been quite a bit more interest from America and Europe in the last two years,” she said, adding that price is likely a key factor. “A lot of couples may be thinking, ‘I’m going to have a destination wedding because I get a holiday and wedding for half the price,’ thanks to the exchange rate.”
Rosie Holidays, which works regularly with U.S. wholesalers such as Pleasant Holidays and Classic Vacations, offers commissionable destination wedding packages that start around $2,000, according to Lee-Erasito, but hotels across the islands offer couples a wide range of options with varying prices.
For instance, lovebirds can book a starting wedding package at the Shangri-La resort on Yanuca, in the property’s gorgeous beachfront Seaside Chapel, for about $1,150, including setup for up to 30 guests; help from a dedicated wedding coordinator; a wedding minister or officiate; a trio of Fijian singers; flowers; and assistance with license documentation requirements.
For travel agents helping couples who are keen to create a truly customized Fiji wedding with unique flair, however, Addison-Smith’s My Tropical Fiji Wedding — which offers commissionable rates to agents — can provide all sorts of local insight and problem-solving. The company works regularly with a range of the destination’s resorts and hotels. Addison-Smith says she what she really specializes in is making a bride’s dream wedding come true, whether that means an idyllic sandy beach ceremony or something more unexpected and distinctive.
“I look at the sugarcane fields, and I think that would be an awesome, awesome place to have a wedding, with a little path that leads to this beautiful, big opening,” Addison-Smith said. “The unique photos that setting could provide would just be wonderful.”
My Tropical Weddingwww.tropicalfijiwedding.com