Tonight I had the privilege of attending the ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards. As I walked through the grand ballroom of the Sheraton I saw familiar faces of Fiji Tourism industry. I was among giants….legends who have shaped Fiji tourism.
Not too long ago my grandfather turned up on my doorstop when I was flatting out in Suva City and said “Right get dressed we’re going to dinner”. I thought ‘Yeah ok I’ll throw an evening skirt and a top’. What I did not know was I was his date to the Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards where he was to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to him at the then derelict Grand Pacific Hotel where he first stayed as a baby in 1927. That man was John Pettitt. He was a risk taker when he decided to invest in the Seaspray and then add on to his fleet of boats that would become South Sea Cruises.
My grandfather (left) with the late Mike Brookes
Tonight I watched another great man receive the exact same award, down to the same trophy. Mr Gerald Barrack received the Lifetime Achievement Award tonight to a standing ovation and I was teary eyed as I watched the Prime Minister jump down from the stage to present the trophy to a frail but dignified Mr Barack.
Vishnu Mohan, ANZ CEO Pacific and CEO Fiji hit it on the head tonight when he said “While traditionally we distinguish between gold, silver, bronze, etc. these are in reality alloys of sweat, determination, boldness and courage”
Mr Barrack receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award with the Prime Minister of Fiji
These are our champions of the tourism industry, they are championing an industry that generates 35% of Fiji’s GDP. That is no easy feat and you bet your bottom dollar we should be recognising these visionary people.
Tonight the Visionary Award went to Mr. Anthony Collin Philip, another tourism giant who saw potential in Savusavu in the 60′s among many other achievements.
Congratulations to the big winners tonight, Rosie Holidays for scooping 3 of the major awards.
While the food was lovely (and I love salmon) I do think a better effort should of been made to source local produce to show the best of what Fiji has to offer. I would of loved to see a Fiji infusion menu telling me where produce was sourced and how they’ve made the meal. (Eg. Take a look at Taste Fiji’s menu).
Ladies tonight your style game was on point especially those of you who made the effort to wear couture Fiji made gowns. You are supporting the fashion industry when you wear Fiji made. Fashion could very well be a thriving complimentary industry to tourism. Men, you need to up your fashion game, just saying I am over the traditional ‘Bula’ shirts but having said that some men did make the effort to wear dapper suits that restored my faith.
Marilyn and Emily wearing Fijian Designer Samson Lee
Kudos to Ben Ryan, James Sowane and Tony Whitton for mixing it up with pastel and contemporary prints. (I failed to get a pic of Tony and James)
Lastly to the FETA organising committee and Board of Trustees, congratulations on a great event, it has become 'THE' social event of the calendar year.
Just an observation as an Online Communications consultant and the grand- daughter of a Lifetime Achievement recipient, I have one very big ‘kerekere’, this is an exclusive club of well deserving industry visionaries and champions, give them their well deserved place in cyberspace. I say this because after extensive googling I could not read up on past winners and the Facebook page also does not have any of that information or a proper link to a website.
From the Sheraton (as we wait for TC Winston)