Vanua Levu investment could aid post-Covid-19 recovery efforts: Study

Investment in high-yielding tourism opportunities in Vanua Levu has potential to increase Fiji’s tourism earnings by $339 million this year, a study suggests.

Released recently by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the study titled ‘Vanua Levu Tourism Market Demand Assessment’ recommends that any tourism investment on Vanua Levu should capitalise on nature and adventure, scuba diving and yachting, weddings, honeymoon and expedition cruises, all of which, it says will aid the nation’s tourism sector recovery and support the island’s resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

To enable this and underline Vanua Levu as a key destination, the study says, requires investment in a range of areas including adequate supporting infrastructure and services and improving investment conditions for the private sector. It also recommends developing the labor force for tourism and advancing biodiversity and conservation.

IFC resident representative Deva De Silva said this is an opportunity for Fiji to be tourism ready when international arrivals to the country resumes.

“While it may be difficult to reliably forecast when international arrivals will return to Fiji at this stage, the Fijian Government has the ability to position itself for the future by focusing on high value and ‘first to rebound’ markets,” he said.

The study, made possible with the support of the Australian and New Zealand governments, provides critical information for the World Bank Group and the Fijian Government to design a project that will support the island’s future growth and recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. It comes on the back of work carried out in 2019 by the World Bank and the Fijian Government to explore tourism development opportunities in Vanua Levu through the bank’s International Development Association (IDA) lending program.

Fiji’s Minister of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Faiyaz Koya said there is untapped tourism development in Vanua Levu.

 “We are all aware of the impact of COVID-19 on Fiji’s tourism industry but the Fijian Government’s commitment to the long-term vision of a more diversified and sustainable tourism sector remains [unwavering].”

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