By RAGIGIA DAWAI
30 September 2013 – The knowledge that she was supporting her village back home has been in the back of mind for a Tourism Fiji employee who is coming home having spent the last five years promoting Fiji as a holiday destination to New Zealanders.
Tourism Fiji’s regional marketing officer Ragigia Dawai, whose achievements include helping boost declining visitor numbers post-flood in 2009, is leaving the NTO’s Auckland office this month.
Ragigia comes from the influential Dawai family of Narewa Village, Nadi, landowners of the popular Denarau holiday destination. She is the youngest of nine siblings, and her older brother Ratu Sailosi Dawai is the Tui Nadi.
“More than 500 people from my village are employed in these world class Denarau resorts so in my line of work when you train a travel agent to be a Fiji expert, to increase their Fiji business and to just be as passionate as you are about your own country—I do it knowing that those 500 people are relying on visitors from here to keep them in those stable jobs. It’s helping them put food on the table,” she says.
Ragigia is familiar to many in the New Zealand travel industry for the hard work she has put in training agents, hosting roadshows and sharing her in-depth knowledge of the country’s tourism offerings.
“In this job, it’s not about the number of bookings for Fiji but knowing that those numbers of bookings are benefiting the people of Fiji. Each enquiry I get at the office is treated with high priority for one reason only—that it is a potential booking for Fiji,” says Ragigia.
She joined the Fiji Visitors Bureau in 2003 as a marketing officer, looking after markets including South Korea and the UK, before heading to Tourism Fiji’s New Zealand office in 2008. A year later Gia was part of the team that arrested the decline of the New Zealand market following the flooding in Nadi, when the NTO launched its Bula Spirit campaign.
She was also part of the team responsible for the award-winning Lucky You Lucky Me campaigns in 2010 and 2011.
“I have been privileged to have been given the opportunity by Fiji taxpayers to work for this organisation, to travel the world, serve under Fiji’s greatest tourism leaders (Bill Gavoka, Jo Tuamoto and Sala Toganivalu) and gain a wealth of knowledge and experience that has moulded me to be able to do great things for my country,” says Ragigia.
“I am thankful to have been part of the team that drove Fiji tourism to a billion dollar industry and half a million visitors to Fiji.”
Ragigia says the decision not to renew her three-year contract with Tourism Fiji was not an easy one to make, but she is looking forward to returning to her homeland and contributing directly to the growth of the economy.