Fiji – the mysterious archipelago in South Pacific is truly the tourism destination of the 21st century. Despite of being ruled by military junta, Fiji remains a friendly country and it is safe to go there both alone and with kids.
Half a Million Tourists
Due to close proximity the islands are especially favoured by Australians and New-Zealanders. Fiji day tours are pretty much on their leisure agenda. Last year quarter of a million Australians chose it as their holiday destination. Europeans account for more than 60,000 visitors. The total number of visitors is on a rise. If only 290,000 tourists went to Fiji around the turn of the century, eight years has been enough to increase the total visitor count to 585,000. Not bad at all for a country with population of 849,000.
This is nowhere near the maximum capacity of Fiji tourism industry, though. It is estimated that before 2020 the country will welcome at least one million visitors a year. This will put a huge strain on the government and local people.
Sustainable Tourism Plan
Back in 2003 WWF (World Wildlife Fund) in collaboration with the local tourism board announced a Sustainable Tourism plan. It was needed to harness the booming industry and make sure the ever increasing number of scuba divers and shark hunters don’t damage the subtle environment of the islands. The plan doesn’t mean Fiji is less fun now; just the opposite – with more eco-tours and guided walks it has attracted people who usually chose different locations.
Tourism provides almost 50% GDP of the island country; it provides new employment options for the local community and improves the infrastructure. It also enhances the landscaping of some towns and villages and strengthens friendship among people of other backgrounds. However, the locals know that tourism may also account for over-fishing, cutting trees, damaging reefs and commercialization of the ethnic culture. The new WWF plan makes sure these issues are properly addressed. Fiji has a unique ecosystem and there are many plants and animals to be protected.
Fiji is a wonderful place to be and with a clever tourism management it will grow from strength to strength. It is likely that the targets set by WWF will be reached before the deadline.