Sofitel’s $30M Facelift

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The renovations and refurbishment are being done with minimum disruptions to guests.

Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa’s $30 million refurbishments will set this renowned resort apart from many other resorts in Fiji. The latest area under refurbishment is the arrival area at the entrance,foyer and reservations and with the images showing what the transformation would look like, the sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa will surely set itself apart from major tourist destinations in Fiji.

The resort has already completed the refurbishment of the famous Watui Beach Club and its rooms, the newly built Kid’s Club and restaurants including the new concept Bazaar kitchen.

The new buffet restaurant is the first of its kind in Fiji and features seven interactive kitchens French,Fijian,Arabic, Indian,Japanese,Chinese and American Grill.

Republik Nightclub

The resort opened its $1.6million Republik Nightclub in December and is the only nightclub on Denarau Island which features international disc jockeys on special occasions.

The resort’s director of sales and marketing Michael Bell said the entrance and foyer had been closed.

” Yes this is currently offline for renovation till early March 2020,” Mr Bell said.

He added the resort ahd received excellent feedback for both the Republik Nightclub as well as the Baazar Kitchen.

” This year the resort would be looking at the renovations and refurbishment of three wings of guest rooms on the family section.

” We are in discussions to possibly add another wing of rooms, about 66 rooms in total to the hotel.

” The wing would run down the family side of the resort next to our boundary with Hilton”.

However Mr Bell did not disclose when work on this new additional wing would start.

The renovations and refurbishment are being done with minimum disruptions to guests.

Credit: FijiSun

Date:26/01/20

Bayshore unveils new website

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For survival in this tech savvy world, we need to have a presence and a product which is customer friendly and easy to use.

This has prompted Bayshore Real estate to revamp itself and bring a product which is user friendly, faster to use and offers viewers a chance to find a solution to their housing needs whether it be a rental or the purchase of a lot of land.

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New $40mil project for Nadi

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Wailoaloa Developments Pte Limited earlier this week carried out the groundbreaking ceremony for their $40 million Palm Beach Estate Townhouses Project at Wailoaloa, Nadi.

The company, fully owned by Hari Punja and Sons, said the development was launched at a level that was not previously available in Fiji.

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Fiji’s trade remains undisrupted during this pandemic

Trade between Fiji and its partners has not faced much disruption during this pandemic.

This is particularly for trade between Australia and New Zealand.

This comes as freight flights between Fiji and its major trading partners have been maintained in the last two years despite limited travel globally at some point.

The Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, says Kava is becoming a growing commodity in many countries, with a pilot program recently launched looking to increase its sale and distribution in Australia.

“And we are hoping that once that pilot is finished, we will see kava exports in commercial quantities pick up in Australia. At the moment, you can take in 4 kilos for personal use. But we know that Fiji Kava is the best in the world and we are keen to see it enter the market in commercial quantities.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Charlotte Darlow, reiterates that trade is an integral part of bilateral relations and continues to work with the government to ensure it remains as undisrupted as possible.

“As governments, we’ve tried to step through how to address some of those challenges in a time of COVID and you will see us may be looking at maybe using airlines a little bit differently and maybe supporting shipping routes differently, but I am hoping that we have help to manage some of those disruptions as much as we possibly can.”

Commissioner Darlow and Feakes have also shared similar sentiments that the Fijian Drua opens up discussions to explore new trade opportunities with Fiji in other sectors.

Credit: Fbc Tv

Tourism confidence level remains high

There is still a lot of interest and confidence from travelers wanting to visit Fiji.

This is despite events of recent flooding as well as the third wave of the pandemic and impacts of the volcanic eruptions in Tonga.

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says despite this lull period in the tourism calendar whereby tourists are reluctant to travel, there are still those who have made forward bookings for later in the year.

“A lot of people are booking into May, June, and July. I’ve also seen some of the bookings way down to October and November of this year.”

The Minister for Economy says occupancy may have dropped in some hotels. However, this does not apply to all.

He says some travelers have changed their schedules due to rising Omicron cases in their country.

Sayed-Khaiyum says what is more important is for operators to maintain a safe environment for visitors, as this will attract tourists.

“We need to continue to ensure that the COVID safe measures and protocols we put in place are well adhered to because that is what leads to confidence

He says tourists are already aware of Fiji’s high vaccination rate, urging Fijians to maintain adherence to COVID-safety measures so that the industry attracts more visitors.

Credit: FBC TV

Abundant liquidity helped keep borrowing rates low

The Reserve Bank in its latest economic reviews has stated that abundant liquidity in the banking system and quantitative easing measures by them have helped keep borrowing rates low.

Accordingly, commercial banks’ lending and deposit rates declined over the year and over the month in November 2021, except for the new time deposit rate which increased over the month.

The RBF states the weighted average outstanding lending rate of banks was 5.79 percent in November compared to 6.15 percent a year ago.

It also states in its economic review that inward personal remittances grew by 16.2 percent in the 11 months of 2021 to total $752.7 million.

Of the total cash transfers received, $445.2 million were remitted via money transfer operators, $161.9 million through mobile money platforms, and $145.6 million through commercial banks.

The RBF says high global energy and food prices coupled with continued supply chain bottlenecks and labour shortages continue to affect domestic prices.

Inflation has been on a rising trajectory in the second half of 2021 and is expected to maintain the momentum in the first quarter of this year.

The annual inflation rate is estimated to have been around two percent at the end of 2021 and is projected to rise to 2.5 percent by the end of this year.

Credit: FBC TV

Economic activity picks-up

Economic activity started to pick up from the last quarter of 2021 as mobility restrictions were eased and international borders re-opened from December 1st says the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

The RBF in its latest economic review states that major sectoral production continued to show improved results although still below the pre-pandemic level.

Output in the timber industry remained firm in the year to November 2021.

Governor, Ariff Ali says aggregate demand also started to pick up as reflected by improvements in consumption and investment spending.

Ali says monthly growth in Net Value Added Tax collections moved into negative territory in November, after recording gains for two straight months owing to higher VAT refunds.

He adds investment spending is also rising, although at a slower pace.

New loans for investment activity increased by 3.1 percent in the year to November, driven by higher lending to the real estate category.As per the RBF Job Advertisement Survey in the
year to November 2021, the number of jobs advertised declined by 37.9 percent compared to a higher contraction of 65.7 percent noted in the corresponding period in 2020.

Ali says demand for labour is expected to pick up gradually after mobility restrictions were eased and international borders were re-opened last quarter.

Credit: FBC TV

Tourism Fiji welcomes revised measures

Tourism Fiji Chief Executive, Brent Hill says they are very working closely with the Ministry of Health on the measures designed to keep everyone safe.

This as the Ministry of Health has made changes to the pre-departure testing for incoming travelers to mitigate any possible transmission of the virus in the communities.

All travelers will now have to produce a negative PCR test taken no more than two calendar days prior to their scheduled departure from January 1st.

Hill has described these changes as risk reduction measures.

He adds the new Omicron variant is highly transmissible and will work in favor of everyone if the amount of cases coming in the country is reduced.

“The measures they are putting are designed to keep everybody safe as possible and to reduce that period of exposure and this is risk reduction measures the Ministry is putting in place.”

The changes apply to all travelers disembarking or transiting through Fiji from January 1st.

Credit: FBC TV

More than $100m to be injected through visitor arrivals

Tourism Fiji is optimistic that the economy will rake in over one hundred million dollars through visitor arrivals by the end of next month.

Chief Executive, Brent Hill says this is based on previously available data for tourist spending and visitor arrivals.

Hill adds the last few weeks of this month and January are the busiest.

“It’s been really encouraging. We are still on track to see a sort of 30,000 mark in December of tourists coming to Fiji which is fantastic. Lots of people are coming here relaxing, enjoying an amazing Fijian Holiday, and importantly getting home safely”.

Hill is cautiously optimistic that the tourism sector will do well going into the New Year.

“The early signs are actually really encouraging in terms of our tourism spend. One of the hotels I spoke to, said that the numbers of things like food and beverage are up a little higher. We see really good numbers in tourism experiences, I think the operators operating South Sea Cruises, Cloud 9, and Captain Cook, all these amazing operators particularly here in the West are doing well and are seeing tourists booked out”.

He adds that while they have had a very low percentage of tourists testing positive for COVID-19, they are trying all they can to keep everyone safe.

Credit: FBC TV

Increased confidence in the Fijian market

The resumption of international travel has brought increased confidence in the Fijian market.

Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the past 18 months have been unstable due to the unknowns brought about by the pandemic.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the diplomatic positioning and maneuvering by the government has led to the reopening of many businesses.

“That of course has led to a lot of confidence and I was talking to your president, he is saying that 100 percent of all the shops have opened up. It is because of the strategic planning and the opening of the border we are in that position today.”

The private sector has been encouraged to not only consider long-term investments but to participate in lighting up towns and cities this festive season.

“Turning your lights in the evening plays a critical role and it doesn’t cost that much. To have your city well lit up or your Christmas lights displayed gives people the confidence and create a safe for happiness to confidence building.”

A lot of businesses have benefited from the $200m loan facility provided by the government the bulk of which has been disbursed by commercial banks.

The loan aims to help businesses get back on track with the impact of COVID-19.

Credit: FBCTV

Professionalism needed in the real estate sector

There is a need for professionalism in the real estate says Minister for Housing Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Launching the Jokhan Realtors office in Ba, Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted there are some agents involved in illegitimate activities.

He also highlighted a World Bank Report from 2007 that one-third of the Fijian economy operates outside the law.

Sayed-Khaiyum says real estate agents are necessary to bring accountability into the sector.

While acknowledging Jokhan Realtors for investing during this difficult phase, Sayed-Khaiyum says it is crucial to have such businesses.

“It’s best to engage a professional service provider than to do things on your own. It brings better accountability and ensures your compliance with FRCS and many other areas of the law. So I would like to thank Jokhan Realtors for actually taking a very brave step. Many people in fact shifted away from investing.”

Jokhan Realtors Director, Reginald Jokhan adds that despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, investor confidence remains high.

He is also planning to open an office in Savusavu and Labasa.

Credit: FBCTV

Businesses improving and people are spending more

Fiji is in a much better position today than it was six months ago.

Presenting at the Fiji Human Resources Institute Convention this morning, Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Ariff Ali says general business has improved sharply and people are spending more on the back of the economy opening.

Ali says he is optimistic that growth will hit double digits next year.

“So far this month tax revenues are up by 20% and I hope that this trend will continue, commercial banks have now started to lend for both consumption and investment purposes and people are still buying cars and the number of cars on the road is increasing. Job advertisements on a month-to-month basis have now shown 4 consecutive months of more jobs being advertised.”

Ali says they also noted that people were spending more time on grocery shopping and getting medication at pharmacies since restrictions were lifted.

He says that projections for 2023 indicate that growth will continue to rise based on the tourism numbers that will definitely shoot up.

“So government’s total debt is around 80% at the end of the last financial year it was projected to rise to around 92% but with borders now opening there will be more tourists coming that will contribute to GDP and therefore taxes and I think the debt to GDP ratio will not rise to 92% but will be less.”

Ali says he is confident that by 2023, Fiji can expect the same number of tourists pre COVID.

$2.6 billion was also classified as COVID loans that businesses were not able to pay principal or interest.

However, the Governor says with borders to re-open from next Wednesday, this will definitely decrease.

Ali says banks also remain strong as they have an excess of $600m in buffer.

Credit: FBC NEWS

REALB works on improving service delivery

The Real Estate Agents Licensing Board has been working on five critical projects to improve service delivery.

Board Chair, Doctor Abdul Hassan says they intend to enhance organizational capacity and foster real estate industry compliance.

Dr Hassan says they have developed an Online Agents Licensing Portal to address the issue of bogus agents.

“The list of agents have been shown and all the potential buyers of the properties can look through the website to see who the registered agents are and who are the salesperson for those agents. Definitely, if Fijians are more cautious while going through our records they will be able to identify who are the real agents and the salespersons.”

The other critical projects include a new logo, the 2022 – 2025 Strategic Plan, a revamped website, and the National Property Sales Database.

Credit: FBC NEWS