NADI, FIJI-Multiple development projects are under way here as investors look to keep up with growing demand, according to a report by Michael Clarke, a Brisbane-based senior vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels who recently returned from the country.During 2003, international visitor arrivals to Fiji increased by 8.3% to reach an all time high of 430,800. In the first six months of 2004, growth has accelerated, with arrivals increasing by a whopping 20.5%.The growth is largely a result of increased flights to Fiji by Air Pacific, Pacific Express and Freedom Air, and the Fiji Visitors Bureau expects this growth to continue. The bureau is predicting the number of international tourists will increase by an average annual rate of 5.1% over the next four years, and “announcements of discounted fares and increased air services certainly support their projections,” says Clarke. For instance, Virgin Blue has announced new services between Fiji and its largest market segment, Australia, starting this month, says Clarke. As well, Air Pacific recently introduced direct flights from Canberra (Australia’s national capital) to Nadi, along with an additional Melbourne service.The increase in visitors has boosted the performance of existing hotel and resort properties across Fiji. JLL Hotels research found that during 2003, the number of nights spent in tourist accommodation increased by 6.0% and hotel turnover grew by 1.8%. As a result, after three years of inactivity, three major new resorts are currently under construction and three others are being renovated. Clarke says a new 294-room Sofitel at Denarau is under development, as well as a 250-room Marriott at Momi Bay and the 338-room Fiji Beach Resort also at Denarau. In addition, Clarke says Shangri-La’s Fijian has commenced a $30-million refurbishment, two Sheraton resorts are about to be upgraded, and three resorts are proposed for the offshore Mamanuca Group.

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