I. SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND NATURAL RESOURCE SETTING
B. Resource base
4. Tourism: a natural resource-based industry
One of the main competitive advantages of Fiji lies in the perception among visitors of a country with an unpolluted environment, natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage. It can be said that the industry has not taken full advantage of the broader aspects of the natural environment, choosing instead to concentrate on the promotion of the “sun, sand, and sea” elements. Tourism has grown substantially, albeit erratically, over the last 30 years. The industry now generates around 75 per cent of the gross foreign exchange and earnings and employs 30 per cent of the workforce. The tourism development policy of the government and NLTB has been guided by a “honey pot” approach that has concentrated tourist plants on particular areas. As a consequence, 90 per cent of Fiji’s hotel rooms are within a 50-kilometre diameter of Nadi International Airport, either on the main island of Viti Levu or on offshore islands. A range of environmental management issues are associated with coastal tourism development in Fiji, which are related to such things as: the loss of ecological values (through coastal reclamation removal of mangroves); the loss of fisheries through damage to coastal resource ecosystems and the disruption of coastal processes, leading to beach loss; and waste disposal. Recent years have seen a small but significant growth in eco-tourism, making environmental and cultural resources the primary focus for the visitor and an important secondary tourism activity.