President of the Republic of Fiji


Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa Monday,24th June, 2013
DENARAU 5.00p.m.

• The General Manager of Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, Mr. Simon Jinks
• Management and staff
• Distinguished guests
• Ladies and gentlemen

Good evening, ni sa bula vinaka, asalam alaykum, namaskar.

I am honoured to be the Chief Guest at the Sofitel Employee Ambassador Accreditation Ceremony this evening.

This evening’s accreditation ceremony is most important given the important role that you play in Fiji’s tourism industry.

The tourism industry as you are no doubt aware is the backbone of Fiji’s economy.

It is by far Fiji’s highest foreign exchange earner and it has been in this position for several consecutive years.

In 2012, the industry raked in a provisional amount of $338.2 million, representing an increase of 2.9 percent or $9.5 million in comparison to the previous year. The government of fiji is acutely aware of the importance of the tourism industry, not only for its contribution to the national economy, but also for the trickle-down effect and the positive changes the industry brings to the lives of the ordinary people.

Apart from those who are directly employed in the industry which is currently about 20,000 people, there are many other people who also benefit from the industry through providing in-direct but related services and products.

Given the industry’s position and significant contributions to Fiji, government continues to invest in the industry with the most recent and quite substantial investment being the purchase of three air-bus planes that the nation can proudly call its own. This investment is over $1billion.

I am pleased to know that Fiji is now experiencing an increase in the number of visitors from countries such as Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, the United States of America, and countries from Continental Europe.

The key message one can extract from this trend is that there is now an increased level of confidence that the international community has in Fiji.

The elevated level of confidence can be attributed to several key reasons which could very well include the fact that Fiji now has a more stable political climate stemming from the major reforms that the people’s charter for change, peace and progress and the roadmap to democracy and sustainable socio-economic development have ushered in, and continue to fine tune.

And, of course, it can also be attributed to how people like you treat our visitors.

On this note, I would like to thank Sofitel for going the extra mile to train and build the capacity of your staff who operate in the front-line of Fiji’s tourism industry. It goes without saying that it is people like you who are here tonight that can make a huge difference in terms of attracting more visitors, in terms of encouraging earlier visitors to keep returning to our shores, and in terms of giving Fiji an excellent welcome and caring reputation.

At the front-line, I am aware that while the friendly smiles and the ‘bula spirit’ attitude may come naturally, it is equally important that you also have the right skills to provide the best level of hospitality and services.

Having smiling and welcoming staff is just as important as having superb service delivery. They complement each other.

But there is a further demand – that you also have to understand the expectations of customers and to use innovative ways to keep them satisfied and to make them feel that they are earning every value for their money.

I am told that you know of the phrase: cousu main service – which is a sofitel-french term that means “service from the heart”. The intention of such service is to create impressive and lasting memories for your guests.

For indeed, such services will go a long way in ensuring that visitors to our country have the very best experience of fiji.

I am pleased to know that this is the ultimate objective of your training for which you will now receive your ambassadorial accreditation.

I, therefore, take this opportunity to congratulate you on completing your journey through the Sofitel Ambassador Program.

I also thank the Management of Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa for introducing the program in the country which I understand has also been launched in a total of 120 Sofitel hotels around the world.

Congratulations are also in order for Sofitel Fiji for its current leading position of having the most number of Ambassadors in the Pacific with about 150 accredited staff.

I have every confidence that the new-found knowledge of your staff and the hotel’s contribution as a whole will have a significant impact on Fiji’s tourism industry. This could only auger well for Fiji and her people.

It is now my pleasure to present the certificates of ambassadorial accreditation to those of you who have been successful.

Thank you, vinaka vakalevu, sukria, bahoot dhanyavaad.