Caption: Seen in the picture from left are Airports Customer Services Manager Joe Gray, Airports Fiji Limited Acting CEO Naushad Ali, Permanent Secretary for Tourism Elizabeth Powell and Public Relations Officer Rusiate Waqa. Photo: JOSEPHINE NAVULA.

Joe Gray and Rusiate Waqa were all smiles today when they were awarded Fijian Hosts of the Month for November and December, respectively, in recognition for their excellent customer service at Nadi Airport and their contribution to the Fijian tourism industry by the Permanent Secretary for Tourism, Ms Elizabeth Powell.

Rusiate Waqa and Joe Gray, both employees of Airport Fiji Limited, were chosen as winners by the Fijian Host Council for the exceptional customer care they are providing for arriving and departing passengers.

Both the winners were excited and grateful for the recognition and appreciation shown by the Ministry of Tourism and the Permanent Secretary.

Ms Powell stressed the importance of valuing the contributions of front-line staff while presenting the awards to the two Fijian Hosts.

“We are very pleased to receive such excellent reports from our visitors to Fiji about the performance of airport workers in providing them with assistance and  access to information,” she said.

“The Fijian Hosts Program was designed not only to improve the level of customer service. It’s also an opportunity for the Ministry to express its appreciation to the hardworking team of front-liners at Nadi Airport,” the Permanent Secretary added.

Mr Waqa, the December winner,  started his career with AFL as a gardener in 2001. But his ambition and eagerness to learn has propelled him through the ranks into a role of a Public Relations Officer at AFL.

From the Yasawas and married with two children, Mr Waqa says he’s a firm believer in the old saying that “Education is the passport to a better lifestyle.” He was delighted to receive the Fijian Hosts Award.

“This is unbelievable- I am very happy but this has been only possible because of all the different training programs that I have undertaken,” he said. Mr Waqa gave credit to his superiors at AFL. One of them is his immediate boss, Mr Joe Gray, who also received a Fijian Hosts Award today for his performance as a Customer Services Manager.

Forty-five year old Mr Gray,who is currently studying for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree at the University of the South Pacific, started his career with AFL nine years ago  as a Customer Service Coordinator.

Mr Gray has held various positions in the tourism industry and the FNPF over the years and is also prominent for his community work. He’s been Chair of the Hibiscus Executive Committee  for the Senikau pageant and a pioneer members of the AIDS Task Force.

The Fijian Hosts Program is a Ministry of Tourism initiative that was launched in August last year to award top performing employees based at the Nadi Airport. It is designed to raise public awareness of the importance of the airports role as Fiji’s gateway and its general contribution to the tourism industry.

Both winners were selected on the basis of comment cards placed in the Nadi Airport concourse and filled out by international visitors.

The winners received a FIJIAN HOSTS of the Month certificate that is signed by the Minister for Tourism acknowledging their exceptional service and a $250 grocery shopping voucher, dinner for two at the Westin Denarau Resort, with ground transfers provided by Tourism Fiji.

The two winners from today also qualify to be considered along other Fijian Host of the Month winners to be one of the nominees for the Fijian Host of the Year 2012 award to be announced at the AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards next month.

The final prize is an Air Pacific trip for two to Sydney and two nights’ accommodation at the Sheraton Sydney.



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