Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fiji: Tourism Behind Barbed Wire From Viti Levu & Vanua Levu says Andrea.

We must add some whispers have indicated we need to do something to help boost Fiji's tourism otherwise Fiji will loose out. How many years since this coup happened? Yes, thats right 03 years going four, [December 2006 & we are about to enter 2010].

No matter what we say or try and do, the damage has been done by the sheer act of Frank Bainimarama executing the 2006 Coup followed by his little co-ordinated mini coup within a coup in April this year, 2009. We as Fiji people, whether ones in Fiji or abroad, this is the reality.
The regime has willed Fiji to its current state, a Failed State and made worse by the arrogance shown to the Australian & New Zealand Diplomats who had been recently expelled by Fiji's regime. We are often told by some living in Fiji, leave Fiji to us to sort out. Our response to that as Fiji people living abroad, some of us still hold Fiji passport and still cast our votes in the Fiji election. Some are landowners in their own right within their Fijian Communal system and lease funds from their land are deducted for tax purposes and used/or misused and abused by those that wield power.

Evidence of blame game to centre stageas evidenced in recent articles posted by several Fiji bloggers re 'toing & froing' amongst the 'Fiji Judiciary trio' i.e Tony Gates, Khaiyum Aiyaz, Anjula Wati as well as the Coup-maker himself who now has shifted the blame to Tony Gates saying he, Bainimarama was only acting on a memo.
To add salt to Fiji's injury, most recent comments which filtered through to blogosphere, noted in Sai Lealea's blog, quote;
" ONE of Fiji’s sacked judges has predicted that the conduct of Chief Justice Anthony Gates has reached the stage where he is likely to leave the country before it returns to democracy.
Francis Douglas QC said Chief Justice Gates appeared to be “the conductor of the orchestra” in recruiting Sri Lank1an judges to fill the gaps caused by the dismissal of Fiji’s judiciary.

“It is likely that he went to Sri Lanka and recruited the judges because he has a place there,” said Mr Douglas.

“I suspect he intends to retire there so I don’t think he is too worried about what will happen to him if a democratic government comes to power.
“I can’t speak for him but he would probably leave before any election is held.”
Along with fellow Australian silks Ian Lloyd QC and Randall Powell SC, Mr Douglas formed a three-judge bench of the Fiji Court of Appeal that ruled in April that the government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama was illegal. Chief Justice Gates, who was among those dismissed the day after this ruling, was one of the first to agree to return to the bench despite the fact that the constitution had been overturned.

When Mr Douglas had joined the Fiji bench just before the upheaval of April 10, he believed Chief Justice Gates was trying to do his best for the country’s judicial system.

There had been hopes that a working legal system would foster the development of “a kind of culture that would lead to the restoration of democracy”.
But he said the position of the Chief Justice was now “almost untenable”.

While the Chief Justice might leave the country before an election, Mr Douglas said members of the Bainimarama regime might need to be offered pardons in order to persuade them to return Fiji to democracy.

“As a matter of Fijian law, they are in breach of the constitution. So if a democratically elected government were to be brought to power I think that could amount to old-fashioned treason or something of that nature,” Mr Douglas said.
Luvei Viti Think Tank group.
Read more about Fiji Tourism behind Barbed Wire,
Tourism Behind Barbed Wire From Viti Levu and Vanua Levu December 27, 2007
By Andre Vltchek
"Welcome To Paradise!" says flight hostess of Air Pacific, as the planetouches down at Nadi International Airport. From the moment you arrive, the word"paradise" will be continuously repeated; you will not be able to escapeit for one single hour. It will scream from the advertisement billboards, from thepages of glossy airline and tourist magazines and brochures. "Have your ownslice of the paradise for reasonable price". "Invest in new development:your luxury villa in Paradise". "Dine in Paradise". "Swim inParadise". "Honeymoon in Paradise."

Just a few miles from the center of the second largest Fijian city - Lautoka - childscavengers are working in the middle of enormous garbage dump, trying to make livingby separating filthy objects of at least some commercial value. They are surroundedby appalling smell, flies and desperate looking dogs. At the entrance to the dump,big billboard is warning that trespassers will be prosecuted. This spectacle isapparently not for those who came to spend thousands of dollars seeking Eden.

And "Eden" it is, but some 20 miles from Lautoka, on reclaimed land thatis called Denerau Island. It used to be a backwater, full of mangroves and serenetranquility. Now you can choose from several luxury hotels: Westin, Sofitel, Sheraton,Hilton, Radisson. There is a golf course; there are tennis courts, private luxuryvillas, marinas, posh steak houses and cafes, souvenir shops and delicatessen. Everynight, visitors are offered lavish shows consisting of traditional "meke"dances.

It goes without saying that the paradise of 21st century is not "public":it is guarded; it has its own gates and armed security personnel. One has to bea foreigner or extremely rich (quite probably corrupt) Fijian or a member of themilitary (whose top brasses are both rich and corrupt, making astronomical moneyfrom "peace missions" abroad, often sending active-duty or retired soldiersas mercenaries on dubious missions to the hotspots all over the world) to have anaccess to this exclusive club - several square miles of manicured lawns and gardens,of perfumed servants and relative safety and security.

Last week, just a few miles outside the gate, on the access road to the 'Paradise',a young woman was dragged by her hair to the bush and brutally raped. Poverty andfrustration are fueling a culture of violence. Military government is increasinglyarrogant and spiteful towards its own people and international community. The racialdivide between native Fijians and Indo-Fijians is growing. Prices are rising astronomically,making Fiji one of the most expensive countries on earth.

But bright yellow catamaran are still cruising between Denerau and splendid Yasawaand Mamanuca Island Groups; sprinklers are irrigating gulf courses and hotel gardensand evening shows go on, dancers performing in front of mesmerized audience.

Fiji is witnessing new type of mass tourism, which can be described as a "tourismbehind the gate", or in some places even as "tourism behind the barbedwire". In Asia and Oceania the trend is already established in the places likeIndonesian Bali, India, Sri Lanka, even Samoa and Papua New Guinea.

"The entire situation is obscene", explains Joseph Veramu, head of LautokaCampus of the University of South Pacific and the leading Fijian novelist: my 'guide'to local slums as well as rich estates. "We have new developments here, called'Fantasy Island'. There is so much poverty in Fiji, but the rich are insistingon living in their dream world, in their fake gothic and neo-Roman fantasy. Of coursethe people in Fiji are aware of terrible and deep injustice, but so far they arenot able to organize themselves. But that's the story of this part of the worldin general."

'Veidogo' means 'swamps', but it is also a name of the new settlementoutside Lautoka. Nobody knows exactly how many people live here, as there is noofficial census conducted in the poorest areas. There is no road connecting Veidogowith the rest of the world. During the rainy season, narrow path leading to Sireli,suburb of Lautoka, can easily change to a muddy creek. Houses are built from cartonand plywood; some have metal sheets used as roofs. There is no glass in the windows.

"Most of our children don't go to school. And in the rainy season theycannot pass through the dirt. The nearest school is 3 kilometers away", explainsMs. Nahalo, Veidogo slum dweller. "Most people here are working at the garbagedump, earning between 50 and 60 Fijian dollars a week (30 to 40 US dollars at thecurrent exchange rate). This has to sustain entire family, with the prices constantlyrising. This settlement doesn't even have electricity and our drinking wateris rationed. We are receiving no help from this - military - government. Previousgovernment at least came here and showed some interest, but not this one."

The second largest Fijian island - Vanua Levu - is one hour by plane away from Nadi.Although the island is poor, it hosts some of the most exclusive and expensive resortsin the world. One of them, connected with the town of Savusavu by dirt road, iscalled "Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort". After my brief workon Vanua Levu, I decided to visit the resort and talk to the staff. Surprisingly,the place didn't look more exclusive than the chain luxury hotels on DenerauIsland, just smaller. But the room rates here start at 575 US dollars, climbingto astronomical 2.400 dollars per 'luxury' room per night.

"We are doing well; our occupancy is around 80%, although elsewhere in Fiji,tourism is very hard-hit", explains Greg Taylor, General Manager. "Militarycoup last year had almost no impact on the bookings; just a few cancellations, butnothing substantial. There are almost no Europeans and no Asians staying here. Onaverage we have 45% Americans and 50% Australians visitors. Those coming from theUS never heard about the coup. Those from Australia heard too much about it, aretired to read about it and ready to go to Fiji again."

The taxi driver who is taking me to and from Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resortis not as relaxed about the situation as the general manager. He is swearing at the military and the situation his people have to endure: "It is good for thesuper rich. They come to my miserable town and see how dirty and poor it is. Theytake some snap-shots of the children on the street, of the market and dilapidatedbuses. Then they drive on this unpaved road, check into the luxury of the resort,close the door behind them and enjoy feeling so rich and privileged. I think theycome here in order to feel the contrast. If they are rich, it makes them feel evenricher in poor Fiji. If they are not rich in Australia or the US, they feel richin Fiji, anyway. Why else they would build so many luxury and exclusive resortson this struggling island? I heard that they have much more beautiful beaches inAustralia and New Zealand and that prices there are lower. Then why here?"

It is very difficult for two worlds with such different standards of living to coexistnext to each other in comfort and harmony. Tourists staying at one of the posh resortsof Fiji can easily spend in 24 hours more than entire unprivileged Fijian familyin one entire year. This, naturally, creates tension, or simply leads to over-chargingand cheating. And it is happening not only in Fiji, but also all over Southeast,South Asia, and South Pacific.

Latest political and consequently economic developments brought gloom and desperationto the Islands of Fiji. One has to look at the faces of ordinary men and women ofFiji to detect frustration and fear. But they are forced to or at least paid topretend. They pretend that they are happy, that the greeting "Bula!" isgenuine; that they are true content men and women of the Paradise. Because paradiseis what sells. People of paradise are supposed to fit to a stereotype: they areexpected to be simple, 'friendly', poor but content, always smiling.

"...Passengers of shipwrecked canoes were almost always inevitably killed andeaten", explains cheerfully huge billboard at Sofitel Hotel. Cannibalism, whichwas wiped out in Fiji by Christians only 130 years ago obviously sells. Souvenirstores are offering wooden forks that were used to torture victims and to consumehuman flesh. Grizzly but titillating account goes on:

"Generally, those eaten were enemies killed in war, but other categories ofpeople (conquered people, slaves) could also be legitimately killed to acquire a'bokola' at any time. This was necessary because certain regular eventsrequired human sacrifice: the construction of temples, chief's houses and sacredcanoes, or an installation rites of a chief..."

"Then, as now, the best cuts went to the chiefs and priests", commentsa laconically bored to death intellectually looking hotel guest, who apparentlystudied cannibalism in detail. "Christians never wiped cannibalism out, anyway.They just changed the menu. The rich here don't have to stick forks to the humanbody, anymore. There are different ways how to kill, destroy or consume human being."

I don't know the answers to the questions raised by the taxi driver in Savusavu.All I am certain of is that there are more and more fences, barbed wires and gatesin both Asia and Pacific. And that the gap between the rich and desperately pooris deepening at alarming speed, while we are told that everything is fine, thatwe should enjoy traveling, that we should all love each other and live happily andharmoniously under wise guidance of the markets and free trade.

ANDRE VLTCHEK: novelist, journalist, playwright and filmmaker. Editorial Directorof Asiana Press Agency (, co-founder of Mainstay Press(, publishing house for political fiction. His latest novel- "Point of No Return" - describes life of war correspondents and cynicismof post-colonial arrangement of the world. Andre lives in Asia and South Pacificand can be reached at:


    by torika bale on November 12, 2009 at 11:47am

    A METHODIST minister has called for the dissolution of the military and labelled the institution as one that comprised lazy, non-productive members who spent most of their time polishing shoes.

    Reverend Josateki Koroi said he outlined this in his letter to the National Council for Building a Better Fiji when he turned down the invitation to join.

    “The coup is based on a robbery philosophy. It’s like stealing from a bank to set up a school,” he said.

    “If they want to create a better Fiji, then Frank (Bainimarama) and his army should grow their own food and produce food in their own villages. That’ll make a better Fiji. The faster they do this the better.”

    Mr Koroi claimed the army did nothing “all day, everyday” which led them to pick up their guns and frighten ordinary civilians.

    “They don’t produce anything yet they receive hard-earned money. The army should be dismissed and their members sent back to the villages where they can farm and produce something for their family. They shouldn’t be allowed to depend on people’s money.

    “In fact, they should not be paid. They don’t deserve any wages. The Bible says the labouring people should be honoured and fed, and the lazy should not be fed,” he said.

    After he declined the invitation to the council, Mr Koroi said he was surprised at a second invitation to join an arm of the council. “I was invited to join the second working group in the good governance task team,” he said.

    Mr Koroi was asked to join the working group on institutional and public sector reform.

    “I didn’t agree with the philosophy of the charter. The whole thing is illegal. The charter is trying to create a new Fiji. I don’t believe a coup can create a new Fiji. Only God can create a new Fiji and it’s our responsibility to respect that,” he said.

    Mr Koroi said the interim regime wanted to abolish the identity of Fijian people and recreate Fiji into a non-racial country.

    “I don’t know any country in the world that doesn’t have its own unique people. What part of the world has no indigenous people? God made all his people distinct from those of other countries, from India, China, New Zealand and Australia and Fiji is no different. The different people of each country are to be respected for that,” he said.

    He said it was “totally blasphemous” to deny God’s creation from being indigenous people of their country.

    “A better Fiji will be built on righteousness, hard work and good governance,” Mr Koroi said.

    Mr Koroi said another reason he rejected the invitation to join the council and its working group was because of the interim regime’s philosophy that might was right.

    Military spokesman Colonel Mohammed Aziz questioned whether Mr Koroi was speaking as a military officer. “If so, does it apply to him also? He served in active service and remains on the Retired Officers list. Officers do not resign unless they wish to be decommissioned,” was all Colonel Aziz said.

  2. Why is Air New Zealand sponsoring the golden Oldies netball tourny in Fiji???? Is'nt Air NZ goverment owned.
    News on Fijilive website

  3. Hotel room occupancy declines
    Monday, November 16, 2009

    OCCUPANCY rates in hotels, resorts and licensed accommodations in the country averaged 38 per cent in the second quarter of this year, compared to 45.1 per cent for the same period in 2008.

    This is revealed in the Fiji Islands Bureau of Statistics "Provisional Hotels and Tourist Accomodation Statistics, Quarter 2, 2009".

    In the second quarter of this year, there were 862,512 rooms available but 331,373 were sold.

    There were more than 1.9million beds available but 650,685 were sold.

    The bed occupancy rate was 33.4 per cent compared to 37.6 per cent for the same quarter last year.

    According to the bureau, earnings from accommodation, sales of food, liquor, telephone and other miscellaneous charges for the quarter was $118.3m compared to the 2008 second quarter earnings of $119.1m.

    However, paid employment in the hotel sector increased by 8.1 per cent when compared to the same period in 2008.

    In terms of regions, Suva's room occupancy rate of 40.5 per cent was almost similar to last year's figure of 41.7 per cent. In the first quarter of this year, the occupancy rate for the city was 36.3 per cent compared to 33.1 per cent in 2008.

    The Nadi occupancy rate of 45.5 per cent was actually more than the first quarter rate of 41.9 per cent but lesser than quarter two 2008 rate of 51.1 per cent.

    Lautoka accommodation occupancy rate for the second quarter was 18.3 per cent, a decline from the 24.7 per cent recorded last year for the same period.

    Coral Coast experienced an 18 per cent decline, recording 40 per cent occupancy compared to 58 per cent for the same period last year.

    The Mamanuca improved with an occupancy rate of 42.2 per cent from the 2008 figure of 40 per cent.

  4. Anonymous re Air NZ who owns it?? Heres a link that may help, I think NZ Govt has shares & rest by shareholders so NZ Govt does play a key role. You're spot on. Yes, hmm wonder why they're supporting Golden Oldies?? Just a thought it may be George Dyer FJ kingpin up in Auckland twisting some arms esp when Golden Oldies are made up of most 'kailoma(s)'!!

    quote, "Following a significant downturn in Ansett's performance, leading to unsustainable levels of losses, Ansett was placed into Voluntary Administration in September 2001. On the 4th of October 2001 the Air New Zealand Board, its major shareholders and the New Zealand Government announced a new proposal which provided a substantial capital injection from the New Zealand Government into
    Air New Zealand. Following shareholder approval of the new proposal in December 2001, Air New Zealand was recapitalised in January 2002." unquote.

  5. Fiji todays Blog says,

    Other Pacific Islands recorded an increase in Tourists while Fiji drops. Tourists prefer safe ethical destinations.
    November 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm | In Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

    Visitors to Fiji dropped by 15%
    14-Nov-2009 11:28 AM Fiji Daily Post

    Visitors arrival in Fiji for the month of May 2009 dropped by 15 percent which is a lose for the nation.

    The total number of visitors arriving in Fiji for the month of May was 37, 666.

    The major decrease in the total number was recorded for visitors from Australia and New Zealand.

    The two countries recorded significant decrease of 2,695 and 1, 350 respectively and other countries such as Canada, United States of America, Japan, Korea and United Kingdom were contributing decrease.

    Last year the total number of visitors arrived was 44, 316 and for this year is 37,666 which is a great fall.

  6. If the tide is going out fo...from "BACK TO DEMOCRACY FOR FIJI" - Matavuvale Network by poposuamalie
    If the tide is going out for tourism, then what can Fiji offer the world in commodities and products? At the moment it looks grim because no one wants to invest in a country with an unstable govt. sugar exports are declining and fishing is in the dolldrums with corrupt adminstration. It feels like the North Korean experience. pandemonium and paranoia. Here are all the elements of a new type of government. If there is an ideology to describe it, i would call it a 3rd world kava induced banana republic. there is no end to it only parry and retreat, parry and retreat, in the end to nothing at this rate.

    Oh blessed Fiji, there is so much more to you than this..

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  8. @balihands, your comments are much appreciated.
    Luvei Viti Team

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  11. Bula Anon, Thanks for visiting our blog & giving your much valued comment. So sorry this update is late. You know why because someone has claimed our email and has been diverting, reading & deleting as well as controlling our blogs and social sites. Nevertheless, we're back in action & now back-tracking to catch this thief who is causing our team grief.
    Luvei Viti Team


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