Fiji Holidays article - September 2004

It doesn't matter whether you stay at the 5 star Warwick Hotel on the Coral Coast or a communal dormitory in one of the many back packer locations in the Yasawas - all resorts boast the same message - "the friendliness and culture of the local Fijian people".

And it's true. The Fijian people are today one of the most gregarious and hospitable peoples in the world. They have also, until now, been left out of their major export - tourism. This all changed in October 2002 when Scott Balson visited the inland village of Namuamua, got to know the local Chief and stayed at his village five months later. While relaxing around the kava bowl one night the Chief asked Scott if he could help bring more visitors to his village because the village needed the income.

The rest is history and FijiBure.com was born.

Today there are eight villages participating in FijiBure.com and many more are lining up to be part of an Internet-based marketing strategy that is taking the world by storm. These villages cover Viti Levu and the Yasawa Islands. In July this year "Getaway", Australia's premier television travel program visited one of FijiBure.com's villages and were left with the same fond memories that so many of our guests have experienced before. The Fijian culture is community-based and from the moment you participate in the traditional sevu-sevu you are welcomed into the village as an equal member of the community. If you have kids they will be absorbed into the wider community with hundreds of new playmates and babysitters lining up to look after them - at no charge.

Our guests have enjoyed so many benefits that it is hard to know where to start. There are unique activities like octopus hunting, traditional fishing, a night with the "cannibals" (meet the Fijians who starred with Brooke Shields in "Blue Lagoon"), kava ceremonies, climbing, seven days walks across Viti Levu, kayaking and rafting adventures and, of course, the magic of the people in the village. Each one of our participating villages have been handpicked and our hosts provide guests with proper beds, flush toilets and (cold) showers… in a warm to hot climate who cares!

We have had guests extending their stay by days (often at the prompting of their kids), single women crying when they leave their new found friends behind. Some guests have left some wonderful gifts by way of second hand clothes, toys, pens, paper and balls - even the sponsorship of a child's education. It should be mentioned that these gifts are neither sought nor expected by the villagers but freely given as a token of their thanks.

The integration of western culture with traditional Fijian culture is firmly in favour of the villagers with only small numbers of guests allowed in the villages at any one time. The costs for guests are lower than backpacker rates at just F$60 per day per adult - and this includes all your meals.

FijiBure.com is not for everybody - there are no wild parties, no bars or alcohol and no plastic events. This is the real deal - exclusive to those fortunate enough to be able to experience a holiday that they will treasure for the rest of their lives.