I know I am an incredibly lucky person to be able to have a job that I love so much. However, what gets me the most excited is when I come across people who have the same passion for sustainability as I do. This gets me recharged and ready to take on new projects. I was lucky enough to spend 12 days in a place that made me excited every day.
I was asked to come to Savusavu, Fiji by two Canadians who own and operate a guesthouse in Savusavu. I met Art and Carol through Air BnB as I was looking for a place to stay in Fiji. Fiji was never part of the trip, however as I was booking our flights I figured we could do a stop over in Fiji and break up the trip. Traveling with an 18 month old I figured he may need a break and I have always wanted to go to Fiji. Once I booked the stop over I realized that the areas of Denarau and the Coral Coast in Fiji were very mass tourism focused and quickly went searching for more of an off the beaten path experience. I came across Art and Carol’s gorgeous home on Air BnB. We discussed what I did for a living and they asked me to come to Savusavu as there was interest in developing a sustainable tourism strategy with the Savusavu Tourism Association. As this is the type of work that gets me out of bed in the morning I jumped at the chance to start a research project in this gorgeous island.
Savusavu is found in the island of Vanua Levu and is considered Fiji’s Hidden Paradise. Of the 600,000 visitors that come to Fiji, only 20,000 make the trip to Savusavu. Savusavu can be reached by ferry or short flight (one hour) and is not a mass tourism destination, so you will not find the massive hotels on the beach. What you will find are friendly local communities and small guest houses to stay at. Gorgeous reefs to snorkel on, one of the worlds best dive sites at Namena Marine Reserve and lots of lush rainforest. I was hooked. I love working in island destinations and subsequently so do my graduate students! So off we all went on a 12 person plane to Savusavu to start research with stakeholders on the potential to develop a sustainable tourism strategy for the island and to look at what aspects are most pertinent to focus on.