“A lot of businesses have come out of COVID-19 a lot leaner and a lot smarter. COVID-19 has changed a lot in the way we do business,” says Rutherford. “Our hospitality, our warmth, our welcome – that’s all natural in Fiji. The people aspect of Fiji can’t be underrated. And then the natural beauty backs that up.”
With a team of more than 300 people, Rutherford said having to stand down the majority of his team through the pandemic was “heart breaking”.
“We only kept a small, core team on to keep us relevant, to keep our assets in shape, to keep things ticking over and contracts up to date. This has meant we are in a good position to rebound and bounce back really well,” he says.
“We’re getting staff back now. We’re matching supply with the large amount of Australian demand, which is mostly coming December and January, hopefully flowing through February, March and we’re already seeing that traditional demand from April onwards.”
Rutherford says Fiji’s recovery is looking very strong with pent up demand coming through from New South Wales and Victoria. However demand from the other Australian states and territories and New Zealand is still lacking.
“No one knew how long the pandemic was going to go for. I don’t think anyone expected in April 2020, when we had our first conversation with ANZ, that we’d still be talking halfway through 2021,” Rutherford says. “We’re out the other side now, but it’s still going to be a long process of working through the impacts of COVID-19 on all tourism operators. The support that ANZ has shown through the pandemic will put us in good stead to bounce back.”
From airline to accommodation, Fiji’s tourism stakeholders have worked tirelessly to ensure that visitors have all they need for safe, seamless travel in a post-COVID world.
“We’re grateful to partners such as ANZ, whose digital banking tools and contactless payment options add convenience to visitor experiences. That’s another great reason for Aussies to come to Fiji,” adds Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill.