Interest in HOTEC grows

Visitor expectations are changing, so the industry and its suppliers must change to deliver the best experiences. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association says the past two years have been particularly tough for the tourism industry and there is a keen interest in tourism’s peripheral businesses to showcase their wares for Fiji’s tourism sector.

This year’s HOTEC will provide the industry stakeholders with the perfect platform to showcase what they have to offer the tourism industry and provide exhibitors with the opportunity to strengthen existing business relationships and forge new connections.

FHTA chief executive officer Fantasha Lockington said so far they had 35 companies that had confirmed to exhibit at HOTEC 2022 with several more to confirm.

In response to questions Ms Lockington said they had sold out their initial intended number of booths and had to increase the booth allocation to cater for the increase in interested exhibitors.

“There are around 20 overseas companies with the majority coming over under our major sponsors Austrade and NZTE umbrella and this will be FHTA’s biggest tradeshow if we confirm the last pending exhibitors,” she said.

“There has been a surge of interest in HOTEC that surprised even our expectations, which is in response to the ongoing challenges of shipping disruptions affecting deliveries, as well as the higher demand for quality products for use in food and beverage areas of hospitality.”

Ms Lockington said the key areas of demand from the industry were identified earlier as including dairy products such as quality cheese products, seafood, wines, frozen produce and cooking products that were extremely expensive to import. From the hoteliers’ and restaurant owners’ perspectives, Ms Lockington said HOTEC could offer a range of more pragmatic solutions to their supply needs – whether as alternative or preferred options.

“With the continuous rise in prices post-pandemic and nudged along with the disruptions from the Russia/Ukraine conflict, hospitality was challenged to look for alternatives that could be delivered consistently and at price points that support offering good quality food at more affordable prices, or provide sustainable options for reducing energy costs, or simply unveil a product to provide that point of difference in they will visit HOTEC to see what new things there are to offer and perhaps strike a deal for more agreeable and consistent products and services.

“Our visitors are not aware for example, that many hotel restaurants are being forced to find alternative options currently for seafood, which means that the hotel must pay up to 70 per cent more than they would from their usual supply chains – or they risk being unable to cater for visitor expectations for seafood when they are in Fiji for a holiday.”

Ms Lockington said they also saw this as an opportunity to promote healthy competition amongst existing suppliers who needed to match the demand for improved value and quality as well as consistency of supplies.

“To improve Fiji’s offering of food and beverages to compete at the international level with our destination competitors who can better supply their fresh produce from their own local suppliers; Fijian tourism operators, menu planners, wine and food suppliers must be aware of the need to cater for a more demanding and discerning travelling market.

“Our visitors are not just expecting fresher, local options but if these are not available in sufficient quantities or acceptable quality, what are the options they would select having been exposed to them in their own countries that can be provided or replicated here?

“What local twists on the many changing dietary requirements can we deliver with the increased focus on healthier eating? This is how we can ensure we provide improved quality and market Fiji as able to deliver great value.

“We must, as an industry, constantly create platforms to promote hospitality-centred creativity, especially around food and beverage offerings.

“To raise our standards, celebrate and recognise our local talent or products, demand more resourcefulness of our suppliers and together push them to attain greater heights for what Fiji can offer.

“Visitor expectations are changing, so the industry and its suppliers must change to deliver the best experiences”.

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