Board of Directors and members of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association
Exhibitors and Participants
Tourism Industry Stakeholders,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Bula vinaka, namaste and welcome to the 16th HOTEC event this year. It is an honor to join you as this is my first time to attend Fiji’s largest hospitality tradeshow as the Minister responsible for Tourism.
At the outset, I wish to acknowledge the immense contribution of the former President of the Fiji Hotels and Tourism Association the late Mr. Dixon Seeto towards the sustainable growth of the tourism industry.  As seen in many other industries, Mr Seeto was instrumental in reshaping the respective sector, that he was part of. He was very committed to this industry and through his tireless work, he ensured such platforms were made available for industry partners to meet and together move the industry forward.  Let us continue the legacy he has left and ensure the products and services offered to our visitors are of the best quality and standard.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The organisers have put together an exciting programme over the two days. Let’s ensure that we meet the objectives of HOTEC, which is to enhance business relationships and find new and innovative ways to increase investments to sustainably grow the industry.  This will bolster Fiji’s competitive edge in the services and products we offer.  I also acknowledge the participation of other Government agencies, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, who are regular participants to HOTEC over the years. Their presence here, further solidifies the strong partnership we already have to strengthen agri-tourism linkages.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tourism is an industry that has the potential to significantly contribute to the growth of new auxiliary industries.  It is upon you as practitioners to build those internal linkages with our local suppliers and service providers. 
None of what I’ve just said is meant to take any credit away from you – the hotel industry – for your hard work and efforts to grow and improve your businesses – boosting the industry and stimulating our national economy in the process.
Your confidence and commitment to Fiji has not gone unnoticed – you are vital partners in creating wealth and developing the nation that we all love and I look forward to working with all of you in the future.
The bottom line is this: our long-term vision is to develop an internationally competitive, dynamic Fijian economy which takes full advantage of our location in the region, our resources and our people. And of course Fiji as a brand. There is so much untapped potential and opportunities that we need to capitalise on.
In this regard, I also call upon the suppliers and service provider to play their part and to maintain standards and continuity of supply.    
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I also would like to acknowledge and thank all exhibitors for using this platform to showcase your products and services. I look forward to meeting you all, while touring your booths.  
I’ve been told there are 34 exhibiting companies occupying 52 booths and this year 11 new companies have come on board. The interest from new exhibitors is positive and highlights the growth of the event over the years. With the support of the industry and all partners and stakeholders I’m sure the event will continue to evolve from strength to strength.
With all due respect to our international companies exhibiting today, I have to declare my interest (in case it isn’t known) and advocate for our locally Fijian Made and Fijian Grown goods and products.
I understand there are challenges, and of course there are some items you must import, but there are also those, that I am sure you can identify and find a local substitute for, with equal/comparable quality.
As your Minister, I’m committed to maintaining the support for the industry and to continue to implement a holistic and integrated approach to marketing, branding and advertising. 
Let’s take a chance on ourselves! Let’s take a chance on Fiji!
To the exhibitors, I wish you positive interactions, as well as new and strengthened partnerships going forth.
To the organisers, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association I commend your commitment and efforts to continually host this platform for the benefit of your members and the greater tourism industry! 
Government will continue to support such platforms to ensure continued growth of Fiji’s tourism industry.
To all participants, I wish you fruitful discussions at the various workshops today and tomorrow, and encourage you all to take advantage of this valuable opportunity to get updated on important topics such as the VAT Monitoring System, Waste and Water Management, OHS and others.
I also extend best wishes to the participants of the competitions. Do challenge each other well, promote our Fijian made, Fijian grown and Fijian crafted products as much as possible!
On another note I hear there’s a Golf Tournament hosted by FHTA this coming Saturday as a fundraiser for the St. Christopher’s Home – I look forward to hearing the result of the tournament and thank you for organising this commendable event as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all for your attention today and I declare the 2019 HOTEC Tradeshow officially open!
Vinaka vakalevu and dhanyavaad.