Tappoo rides Fiji tourism rebound – 20/05/08

FIJI. The Tappoo Group is reporting an upswing in its travel retail business as Fiji emerges from the slump in tourism caused by political problems in 2006 and 2007.

“The first quarter of 2008 was very good for us, and we are anticipating a continuation of that as we head into the peak tourist season,” commented Executive Chairman Kanti Tappoo.

“The recovery is under way – last year was difficult, but this year there is growth,” he told The Moodie Report. “We are long-term players, we remain optimistic, and we are going ahead with our plans for expansion.”

(Left) Strength in the family: the Tappoo Group Executive Chairman Kanti Tappoo and Executive Director Harnish Tappoo; (Right) Fiji Duty Free, the Tappoo Group’s airport retail operation at Nadi International Airport, is experiencing a resurgence of customer numbers in 2008 as safety concerns among travellers ease

Inbound visitors to the island nation fell by about 10,000 per annum since 2005 to approximately 540,000 in 2007. Political tensions either side of the military takeover in December 2006 have been the main concern for would-be travellers.

Tappoo stressed, however, that security issues have been largely confined to the capital, Suva, and cited a recent Australian survey that rated Fiji the safest destination in the South Pacific.

Australasian tourists are taking advantage of cut-price packages from resorts and hotels. The higher profile of budget travellers has spelt good business for Tappoo’s Fiji Market destination merchandise stores in downtown Nadi, Sigatoka and Suva, as well as the original Nadi International Airport outlet.

Fiji Market purveys destination merchandise from outlets at Nadi Airport and in downtown Nadi, Sigatoka and Suva

Tappoo is currently working with the airport authority to finalise concepts for additional space at its airport stores, with designs created by specialist firm Kingsmen.

“We are also targeting completion of our new department store in Suva for March/April 2009,” added Tappoo. “This will set a new standard for retailing in Fiji and will compare favourably with all department stores in the region.”

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