132 More Rooms At Pearl

The $85-million transformation of the Pearl Resort is a very welcome milestone in the development of the tourism industry in Fiji. So I’m delighted to be here in Pacific Harbour this afternoon to officially open your new extension and the 132 rooms that are being added to the resort.

I’d like to begin by welcoming all of our guests from Papua New Guinea. Not only Government Ministers and MPs, provincial governors and senior executives of MRDC but landowners and shareholders from PNG’s Western Province and the Province of Southern Highlands. Your presence here today symbolises the growing strength of the people-to-people relationship between our nations – as well as our business ties – and I hope you enjoy your Fijian experience.

Major investments
The Pearl Resort is one of two major investments by Papua New Guinea in our tourism industry – the other, of course, being the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. And in both instances, investors from PNG had the foresight to realise that these properties had huge potential and possessed the financial resources to unlock that potential. To MRDC and the landowners who benefit from its investments, I especially want to say how much my Government appreciates your confidence in Fiji. Tenkyu tumas.

We are certainly worthy of that confidence and the evidence for that is all around us. Tourism in Fiji has grown by 9. 5 per cent compared with the corresponding period last year. And we are seeing a clear upswing in capital investment in the tourism sector, which as you all know is Fiji’s biggest revenue earner and an important source of income for the Fijian people through the employment it generates.

Any investment on this scale is significantly boosting the number of jobs our people need to care for themselves and their families, as well as contributing to the overall wellbeing of the national economy. And I’m especially pleased that this is happening here at Pacific Harbour – an area that is only now starting to fulfill the promise that many have believed possible for it since the 1970s.

Best possible time
All this is happening at the best possible time for the Pearl and its investors to ride the wave of optimism sweeping Fijian tourism and the Fijian economy generally. As I said yesterday, we believe the 5.3 per cent annual growth that the Fijian economy enjoyed last year is just the start. So the confidence that you have placed in Fiji with this investment is certain to reap you considerable rewards in the years to come.

Visitor arrivals are at an all time high, not only from our traditional markets of Australia, New Zealand and North America but emerging markets such as China and India. And we intend to capitalise on the growing global interest in Fiji by allocating an unprecedented amount to Tourism Fiji to market the country as a holiday destination.

As you know, our current marketing slogan is “Fiji, where happiness finds you”. I happen to believe that  the slogan itself isn’t as important as the way our people live up to it.  And that’s what we encourage in resorts like the Pearl – sending our guests home feeling spiritually enriched as well as physically relaxed after their holidays. And all because of their interaction with the Fijian people.

Magic of Fiji
I said recently that any number of countries have a stretch of beach and a cold drink to entice their visitors. But the magic of Fiji is the genuine connection our visitors form with the Fijian people and the warmth of the welcome they always provide. It’s what sets us apart and makes us such a compelling choice of destination. Truly the pearl of the South Pacific – if you’ll forgive me for appropriating your name to make this very important point.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This fresh investment in the Pearl is already having a positive impact on the development of Pacific Harbour and will be an important contributor to the national economy as a whole. So we all look forward to the positive spinoffs of a project that is truly unique – the first hotel and beachfront development in Fiji that also includes a river marina.

From 78 guest rooms before the renovation, the Pearl has now expanded to 210 rooms.  Plus a new 400 seat Convention Centre, a 250 seat brasserie, a fine dining restaurant, a spa and wellness centre, a gymnasium and a chapel for weddings.

With its close proximity to Suva, it promises not only to be a magnet for international visitors but also residents of the capital. And with its unique architecture – the distinctive white sails of the roof – the Pearl is also staking a claim to be different. And every Fijian joins me in wishing the resort every success.

To the MRDC, thank you for your confidence in Fiji. To the contractor, Pacific Solutions, congratulations on a job well done. And to the staff who will work here, always remember that the attraction of Fiji isn’t so much the place as the people. And we look to you to work as hard as possible to make the new-look Pearl a success.

Congratulations to all of you for re-energising Pacific Harbour and the surrounding region. The Pearl has certainly added lustre to our tourism industry as a whole and I now have the great pleasure to declare these new facilities open.

Vinaka vakalevu. Tenkyu tumas.  Thank you.

Fiji Sun, September 13, 2015

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