The Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways, Stefan Pichler, is the new Chair of Tourism Fiji, the organisation that presides over the fortunes of the local industry and markets the country as a holiday destination. Mr Pichler’s appointment – for a term of three years – was announced by the Attorney General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who said it signaled an exciting new era for the tourism industry and the Fijian economy as a whole.
“Stefan Pichler brings an unprecedented level of experience to this role, having held senior positions in the tourism industries of Germany and Australia. Coupled with his stewardship of our national airline, he is ideally placed to lead our industry and take it to new heights. And his strong commercial background means that not only will Tourism Fiji be placed on a stronger commercial footing but the highest standards of corporate governance will be introduced to safeguard the interests of Fijian taxpayers, who finance its $23-million a year budget”, the Minister said.
“This appointment underlines the importance the Bainimarama Government places on our biggest revenue earner and our determination to continue to grow the local tourism industry by identifying new markets and opportunities. Stefan Pichler has done a great job at Fiji Airways – spearheading its continued revival and return to profitability – and has a wealth of ideas about how to consolidate the work that has already been done to put our tourism industry on a better footing. Never before has the future looked so positive for Tourism Fiji, the health of the industry and the jobs on which the wellbeing of so many Fijians depends”, the Minister added.
Aside from holding senior executive positions in several airlines, Mr Pichler is a former CEO of Thomas Cook AG, the world’s second largest leisure travel group, with 35,000 staff and an annual turnover of $US 20-billion. For four years, he chaired the peak German tourism body, Bundesverband der Deutschen Tourismuswirtschaft (BTW), and has also been a member of the board of Tourism Australia and the global tourism body, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). He also chaired the Tourism Working Group of the World Economic Forum, the prestigious Swiss-based non profit organisation that brings governments and the private sector together to promote global economic growth.
Mr Pichler – who took over as head of Fiji Airways in September 2013 – said he was honoured and delighted to assume the Chair of Tourism Fiji. ” I have developed a deep love of Fiji and its people and am fully committed to making our industry the best in the world for a nation of our size. We already have tremendous branding with our slogan “Fiji: Where Happiness Finds You” but there are parts of the world which our marketing effort has yet to reach and where there are great opportunities for expansion. I intend to begin work immediately with the great team around me at Tourism Fiji and all of the stakeholders in our industry to step up our efforts to seize those opportunities”, Mr Pichler said.