With turmoil ended, Fiji focuses on recovery By Tony Bartlett / September 08, 2000 Share 1 -- LOS ANGELES -- With its political crisis ended and bookings slowly increasing, Fiji launched a recovery campaign called Warm Days, Cool Deals. The Fiji Visitors Bureau (FVB), Air Pacific, 15 North American wholesalers and Fiji hotels and resorts are participating.According to the FVB, most major hotels and resorts have slashed room rates by at least 30%, plus many are offering value-added extras, such as free meals.The program's central feature is a new Web site, at www.warmdayscooldeals.com, with information on new wholesaler deals."The deals are out there. Rooms are empty. There's no better time to go to Fiji," said Alda Picadash, general manager of Vancouver, Wash.-based South Pacific Holidays.Picadash said cancellations stopped and bookings resumed after the State Department lifted its travel advisory against Fiji on Aug. 11.The advisory, issued May 29 for the capital of Suva, later was extended to the whole country, which underwent a 56-day government hostage crisis, the arrest of the rebels and the formation of a new interim government.Jim Bruce, who recently returned from an inspection tour of the main island of Viti Levu, said the only tourists he saw were American.Bruce, owner of Lahaina, Maui-based A Cook Islands Connection, said, "Hotels have reduced staffs but are operating normally. Values are great and the country is safe."I'm expanding with a Fiji program. You can't find rooms in the Cook Islands," he added.Portland, Ore.-based Sun-spots International is experiencing a steady increase in Fiji bookings."Tahiti and the Cook Islands are full, and many Tahiti hotels are booked through the year, so Fiji should do well," said Greg Smith, president. "But fall is a big booking period and much depends on the word getting out. Fiji is not getting the media attention now."Ron Hunt, president of Sonoma, Calif.-based Travel Arrangements, expressed similar views."Fiji is wide open, has lots of beds, lots of seats, lots of deals, and is perfectly safe," he said.Mike Conregan, Air Pacific's Los Angeles-based regional director, the Americas, said, "We're starting to pick up, but it's been tough. We didn't cancel flights but we lost 30% of our customers during the worst of the situation."On Oct. 1, Air Pacific will launch a twice-weekly Vancouver-Nadi service. It has four Los Angeles-Nadi flights a week and three for Honolulu-Nadi. Air New Zealand serves the Los Angeles-Nadi route with three flights a week.According to Joseph Tuamoto, FVB's Los Angeles-based regional director, the Americas, Air New Zealand will soon join the Warm Days, Cool Deals program."We're optimistic that the word of the campaign will get out," he added.Island's Web site full of resort, cruise dealsLOS ANGELES -- A number of new wholesaler deals are featured on Fiji's new Web site, most effective through March 31.Many are for seven-night hotel and resort stays, with clients either paying for only five nights or getting all meals free. Some properties offer all meals free with five-night stays.Wholesalers also have packaged deals with multi-resort stays. Deals include Blue Lagoon Cruises, with a 30% discount off main deck accommodations, and Captain Cook Cruises, with 20% off all cabins.Package prices, with air from Los Angeles and seven-night stays, start at $1,100.The Web site also features information on Air Pacific's cash rebate offer, with a cash rebate form and information on each participating property and its deals.For further information, agents can also call the Fiji Visitors Bureau in Los Angeles at (800) 932-FIJI.Wholesalers agree on Fiji's safetyFiji is safe. There never was any real danger to visitors, and political disturbances were concentrated mainly in Suva.Fiji's loss resulted in a sold-out Tahiti and Cook Islands, a situation that continues.Some Americans did not cancel and enjoyed Fiji vacations during the crisis.Leisure travel from the closer and larger markets of Australia/New Zealand stopped following sensational media coverage in those countries.