#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Fiji decree to open up surf spots

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fiji decree to open up surf spots

By Brad Melekian of the San Diego Tribune


In a move that seems likely to have a large impact on many traveling San Diego surfers (and surfers worldwide), Fiji’s minister of tourism last week announced that all restrictions on access to the surf throughout the Fijian islands will be lifted.

For the many San Diego surfers who have routinely visited Fiji’s exclusive surfing resorts, such as Tavarua, this is significant, as Fiji’s system of reef rights — wherein individual tribes have exclusive control over who uses the reefs and when — has for years provided the structural foundation for surf resorts throughout the country. These resorts are unique to surfing, as they only grant access to a limited number of surfers at a given time, thus limiting the crowd in the lineup. In exchange for this guarantee of exclusivity, these local resorts are able to charge high premiums.


Fiji Minister of Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum suddenly and unexpectedly issued the Regulation of Surfing Areas Decree on Thursday, which, according to Radio Fiji, “cancels any existing instrument of title, including any lease or license — without payment of any compensation” to the current rights holders.


This could have a profound effect on the surf resorts in Fiji, which over the years have become among the most popular in the world. The most established and popular of those resorts is Tavarua, a small island with world-class waves. In the early 1980s, the Tavarua Surf Resort was established, providing one of surfing’s best travel experiences, as only guests at the resort are allowed to surf Tavarua’s waves. The resort keeps a strict limit of 36 guests per week, which makes for light crowds on the famous waves at Cloudbreak and Restaurants.


Though this exclusivity has come at a steep price for guests — $3,995 per person for seven days — Tavarua has long been considered one of the premier surf-travel destinations on the planet, both for the quality of surf and the uncrowded conditions.


The end of Fiji’s reef-rights system would drastically change the nature of surf tourism throughout Fiji.


According to reports, Sayed-Khaiyum, the tourism minister, believes changing the nature of reef rights will open the country to more surf travelers, and thus more tourism revenue. While many surfers consider Fiji’s resorts a premier destination, the limits on access prevent the volume of surf tourism to Fiji from reaching the number that flows to other select destinations such as Hawaii and Indonesia.


The date for the changes remains unspecified by the government, which has businesses in the area waiting to see how and when these changes will be implemented. It was not immediately clear how local businesses would be affected. Calls to Tavarua resort were not immediately returned, but Tavarua co-founder Jon Roseman released a statement saying Tavarua would wait to see how the decree affects its operation.


In the world of surfing, Fiji’s reef rights have spawned broader debate about the possibility of the Tavarua model being adopted elsewhere, and about the ethics of limiting access to the surf.


While the market seems to speak for itself, as spots such as Tavarua are often booked months in advance, some surfers have an aversion to such exclusivity on moral grounds, as surfing has always been an open-source sport. But as surfing becomes more popular, the resort model seems like an effective way to manage the crowds, in much the same way that ski resorts do.


If the Fijian government is betting on increase revenue from surf tourism, they are tapping a potentially rich market. The estimated number of surfers worldwide has grown to nearly 5 million, a number that is likely to continue increasing.

6 comments:

  1. What surfers and potential visitors must understand is that the government that put out this decree is illegal and none of the native land owners who have traditional,cultural, social and close affinity to the land and the reefs, were consulted in the process. Surfer must be very careful as their safety when they intrude in areas now being opened up cannot be guaranteed. Who is going to enforce this law - when foreign surfers come and surf and intrude into Fijian owned reefs - which is a source of livelihood for them - the Military?

    The illegal regime have now touched on issues close to the heart of Fijians - land. This is what brought Chaudhary's government down. Against all advice, Chaudahry tried to force the new land reforms in, so early in the Labour tenure. We all know what happened. Let us hope that this is what is going to rouse the Fijian from his slumber!

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  2. I expect the alarmist comments above are from someone associated with Tavarua. I know of people who were baskhed there after the current owners took over.

    The above comments sound like threats. I know people in Momi village who lost lucrative businesses when the "exclusiviity" was set up.

    I know Fiji well. I will pay a "gift" to the local chief or village. BUT I WONT DEPOSIT HUGE AMOUNTS OF US DOLLARS INTO SOME CALIFORNIANS BANK ACCOUNT.

    Expect more comments like the one above. This will bring more tourism to Fiji it is good for all Fijians instead of a few americans.

    God Bless Fiji. Lets hope FICAC and FIRCA have a good look at Tavarua before they disappear.

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  3. @ GB.

    Don't understand - please clarify? So where's it going exactly? (Tavarua break)

    And who are 'they'?

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  4. Khaiyum, like his master Bainimarama, does not own any land or reefs in Fiji.This is another Al Quaeda plot to get rid of our WW11 allies from Fiji just like what will happen to the Fiji Times.

    Next to be regulated will be Fiji Waters and the many resorts around the country which will turn Fiji into another Islamic state.

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  5. GB
    No, am not talking about Tavarua specifically. What happens to Tavarua is not a concern for me.

    I am concerned about all the other coastal areas which are used by the Fijians for their livelihood - the reefs which they have used for food and so on. The decree has given the foreign tourist the freedom to come and surf on it without talking to the traditonal owners, without the traditional owners being able to raise any concern about their livelihood. The decree had removed the right of the Fijian to have his point of view taken into account. Any resistance will be dealt with by the Police! So the Fijian is now becoming a second class citizen in his own country as the regime chases the tourist dollar!

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  6. Second class third class who cares, they don't. Just live for today to eat for tommorrow. No worries.

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