Bula! Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been conducting a handover of Fiji to Jen Clent, the new Regional Manager (RM) of the area, and it’s brought back plenty of great memories and experiences of my time as the PADI RM in this country. I took over not long after the coup in 2000 that saw the overthrow of the government of the day and then another coup in 2006, this month sees the first election since that year.
Over the last 13 years the landscape of dive tourists coming to Fiji has changed and we’ve seen an increase in ‘flash-packer’ numbers who have replaced the backpackers coming to explore Fiji. The flash-packer spends more money on upgraded accommodation preferring the two or three bed’s in a rooms over the many beds of the larger dormitories. The movement of boats around the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands has changed and tourists are spending the same time in the country but less time in each place, making completing an openwater course a bit of a challenge given the other activities that can be accomplished in a single day not to mention the partying going on in the evening that is a real competitor with all watersports at the resorts.
I’ve witnessed a steady growth in resorts applying for the PADI Dive Resort rating as more tourists come to the region looking for a dive experience. Whether it’s to do a Discover Scuba Dive or the PADI Openwater course, continue their diving education and experience all this and more with local Fijian Divemasters and Instructors who really know how to look after their guests. The Fijian PADI Pros are gifted divers and hosts and there is no better way to complement your Fiji experience than to go diving with the locals who know the reefs, tides, currents and fish life better than anyone!
The Fiji Dive Committee do a fantastic job along with the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association by promoting Fiji dive destinations to travel agents around the world through the weeklong Fiji Dive Fiesta which culminates in the Fiji Dive Expo. A week every year is set aside to showcase the different diving regions of the country and the many resorts host the travel agents offering them a taste of the local diving off their shores. The Dive Expo itself is run over one full day and allows the dive resorts and dive operators to speak with all the dive travel specialists who attend. Great for Fiji and even better for tourists coming to Fiji whose diving desires are matched to the dive resort they travel to, a definite win win.
The diving and the dive resorts here have so much to offer right across the full dive tourism spectrum, the diving industry in Fiji continues to combine scientific research, financial support for local villages, employment as well as education and awareness of the magnificent marine life that inhabit the waters of Fiji. The world renowned hard and soft corals and so much more her location. The remote untouched marine areas still exist here as does the never ending adventure that is Fiji.
I want to thank the dive operators of Fiji, the 65 PADI Resort members and the hundreds of PADI Divemasters and Instructors for their continued support. I’d also like to put out a special thanks to the members of the Fiji Dive Committee and Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association for their ongoing support, communication and inclusion of PADI Asia Pacific. Our ongoing goal is to ensure we are helping Fiji diving operators to grow and for PADI to provide the training tools they need to keep diver training readily accessible to all and at the forefront for non-divers looking to take the plunge.
I’ll keep coming back to Fiji for everything it has to offer and I’m sure Jen will really enjoy looking after all the PADI Members in the region as much as I have, no doubt she’ll love the diving and the Fiji experience that keeps so many of us coming back.