19 February 2013 – A well-respected figure both here in Fiji and on the New Zealand travel scene, Tourism Fiji’s Regional Director New Zealand, Sala Toganivalu has announced she will be leaving the organisation at the end of March.
Ms Toganivalu has in her six years in New Zealand been attributed with having played a pivotal role in Fiji maintaining a top five most popular overseas destination ranking with New Zealand travellers during her time at the helm.
Bearing witness to this, more than 100,000 Kiwis now visit the destination on an annual basis.
Announcing her decision to leave the organisation and return home, Ms Toganivalu said the many challenges impacting Fiji’s tourism industry during her time in New Zealand – including floods, cyclones, the GFC and swine flu – had been at times daunting, but the successes achieved, had more than made up for negatives.
These successes included the launch of the 2009 ‘Bula Spirit’ national TV campaign which proved a catalyst in arresting a sharp decline and effectively regrowing New Zealand visitation following the country’s devastating 2009 floods.
Building on this, and in the face of the GFC rocking the world at that time, the ‘Bula Spirit’ campaign was followed up in 2010 with the roll-out of the Award-winning Fiji brand campaign, ‘Lucky You’ which included national TV and print advertising.
This, together with a digital and outdoor advertising platform, including IRB Wellington 7’s advertising, Westfield Mall advertising, high profile temperature billboard signage in Ponsonby and a nationwide bus-stop initiative named ‘Best Outdoor Advertising Campaign’, helped Tourism Fiji achieve considerable cut-through for the destination on the local consumer travel scene.
Ms Toganivalu also took a lead role in bringing the world-famous Fiji Police Band to New Zealand during Rugby World Cup 2011, the band’s performances around Auckland integrated into both trade and consumer activity, with huge success.
From a trade perspective, Ms Toganivalu also achieved many objectives designed to the local industry up to speed with the latest developments taking place in Fiji.
These included annual road shows, innumerable agents familiarisations, the successful growth of the Fiji ‘Matai’ Specialist Travel Agents program in NZ and the implementation of key partnerships with the NZ trade, designed to build new business via the promotion of holiday packages including those specifically for the VFR (Visiting Friends & Relatives) ex-Fiji residents.
Ms Toganivalu and her Auckland-based team which includes Marketing Officer, Ragigia Dawai and Accounts Manager, Olivia Bolatagici, were formally recognized by the New Zealand travel industry late last year when Tourism Fiji was awarded a ‘Best National Tourism Office’ Award.
A graduate of the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Ms Toganivalu joined the (then) Fiji Visitors Bureau in 1996 as a Senior Marketing Officer following five years at the Fiji Trade & Investment Board in Suva.
Prior to her appointment as Regional Director New Zealand, she served as Manager Fiji, where she was responsible for operational and marketing function management.
“During my time with the (then) Fiji Visitors Bureau and latterly with the re-branded Tourism Fiji, I have been fortunate to have been part of a great team that grew the organisation and the destination over a decade. It was during this time that Fiji undertook great strides and achieved huge tourism growth on the international travel scene, seeing Fiji exceed the half a million visitor mark,” she said.
“It has been a privilege to have worked under the likes of Steve Yaqona, Bill Whiting, Viliame Gavoka and Josefa Tuamoto, all of who showed great leadership and guidance and laid the foundations for what is now Tourism Fiji.”
”During their time they developed a cadre of marketing officers including James Sowane, Eroni Puamau, Paresh Pant and Ili Matatolu, all of whom are still very active in Fiji’s tourism industry today.”
In keeping with a long standing family tradition of service, Ms Toganivalu said it had also been an “absolute honour and a privilege to serve Fiji and its people” and she and her family would remember their time in New Zealand with great fondness.
“My immediate plans after returning to Fiji will be to have a well-earned rest and enjoy quality time with family,” she said.
“And before I leave my main priority is to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for the incoming Regional Director. New Zealand is such an important market for our industry and will continue to be so for many years to come.”