Tourism Fiji has appointed former Flight Centre executive Rick Hamilton as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) after a global candidate search.
Hamilton replaces acting CEO Michael Meade and joins the organisation after five years as MD of Flight Centre New Zealand, before which he held roles as retail leader for Flight Centre South Africa and retail leader for Student Flights Australia.
He will no doubt have his work cut out for him following December’s vicious Cyclone Evan, which battered the Pacific nation with winds of up to 270km/hr, destroying accommodation, uprooting trees and causing widespread power outages.
The cyclone left around 2,100 Australians stranded in Fiji, many of them forced to evacuate their resorts, while thousands more found their holidays cancelled after flights to and from Nadi International Airport were suspended.
Prior to the cyclone Tourism Fiji had revealed a new brand identity to Fiji tourism operators, appointed new marketing and public relations partners, selected a new global social media partner and created a new destination website.
Tourism Fiji's chairman, Dave Pflieger, said Hamilton’s appointment coincided with the roll-out of an “exciting rebranding and repositioning of Tourism Fiji to implement a fresh and comprehensive new strategy to enhance Fiji's reputation as an ideal vacation destination for all demographics and global markets”.
“Rick’s extensive expertise and experience as a results-focused leader is expected to significantly assist us in our goal to increase tourism to Fiji and further grow the economic impact in 2013 by increasing visitor arrivals, spend and average length of stay,” Pflieger said.
In welcoming Hamilton to his new position, Fiji’s Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said: “Tourism Fiji is ready to escalate the benefits of the marketing partnerships and creative initiatives it has diligently and effectively developed.
“We look forward to Mr Hamilton’s contribution to the new direction of the organisation and his strengthening of the competencies of Tourism Fiji by ensuring the right team is in place. Tourism Fiji must deliver on the investment that the Bainimarama Government has made,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
Hamilton said: “I am truly thrilled to be joining the team at Tourism Fiji and I am excited to work with our many business partners, Fiji’s tourism operators and Tourism Fiji's new global partners. Fiji is one of the most unique and beautiful countries on earth and I look forward to enhancing world-wide awareness about Fiji, its people and its many amazing attributes.
“Tourism is a vital part of the Fijian economy and I am delighted to have the opportunity to bring more people to visit and experience the amazing beauty of Fiji and the warmth and hospitality of the Fijian people.”
The tourism body launched a two-week Christmas blitz campaign (below) last September, created by NZ firms Sparks Interactive and Colenso BBDO.