When most people think of Fiji, they think of white sands, swaying coconut palms, crystal clear lagoons, colourful coral reefs and poolside cocktails. Fiji is renowned as a premium tropical holiday destination, attracting visitors from all over the world (pandemics aside). But there is more to Fiji than island vacations: the South Pacific paradise is also emerging as a thriving business hub, particularly in the business process outsourcing space.
With a stable economy, quality education system and a superior customer service culture fostered by years of experience in the tourism industry, Fiji is an ideal offshore outsourcing destination for Australian businesses.
Fiji has one of the most diversified economies in the Pacific, encompassing a sophisticated tourism industry, a niche manufacturing sector and an agricultural sector with strong domestic and international potential, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Major exports include garments, water, fish and sugar. Tourism is Fiji’s leading economic activity, accounting for about 35% of GDP.
Fiji is increasingly recognised as the Pacific hub. It plays a key role in facilitating intra-regional trade, and serves as an aviation hub connecting Pacific Island countries to Australia, New Zealand, parts of Asia and the United States.
Urban growth is rapid as the economy expands, and multilateral development agencies are strategically investing in infrastructure, transport, water and energy in Fiji. Growth in the services sector is driven predominantly by the tourism industry and supported by construction, manufacturing and retail activity.
After several years of sustainable growth, the Fijian economy is expected to contract in 2020, largely as a result of the fall in tourism due to COVID-19. This year has seen a spike in unemployment as many businesses have been forced to scale back or shut down operations. However, assuming international travel begins to recover in 2021, the Fijian economy is forecast to rebound and grow by 14.1% in 2021 and an additional 6.5% in 2022, according to the Reserve Bank of Fiji.
The Fijian Government has a strong commitment to education, and the country boasts a high literacy rate of 96%.
While school is not compulsory, more than 85% of children between the ages of six and 13 attend primary school. Due to its heritage as a former British colony, the language of instruction in the Fijian education system is English.
As the education system is state funded through to tertiary level, many Fijians have tertiary qualifications from the country’s three universities: the University of Fiji, Fiji National University and University of the South Pacific. Several Australian universities have collaborated with these institutions to deliver a range of courses, and there is a push to add contact centre courses to their curriculum that are accredited to Australian and New Zealand standards.
The emerging outsourcing sector
Fiji has an emerging reputation for ICT and back office processing services, according to DFAT. There are about 3000 people working in the Fijian outsourcing sector, with estimated annual earnings of $90 million for the country. The recently-launched BPO Council of Fiji projects that, with growing market awareness and further investment in infrastructure, the industry has the potential to create up to 15,000 new jobs in the next five years, taking the earnings for the sector to over $500 million per year.
Services that can be outsourced to Fiji include financial services, insurance claims processing, accounting back-office services, debt recovery, IT help desk services, outbound telemarketing and in-bound multi-channel customer support.
Why outsource to Fiji?
As well as being a superb destination for an island resort holiday, Fiji ticks many boxes when it comes to outsourcing out of Australia and New Zealand.
It has first-world telecommunications infrastructure, including the Southern Cross cable that provides a fast, reliable Internet connection to the rest of the world. It has low labour and operational costs, with possible employment savings of up to 70% for businesses who outsource there. The favourable time zone and similar social and business culture make it easy to work with an offshore team.
Fiji offers a university-educated workforce of people with exceptional customer service skills, who are proficient in the English language and speak with a neutral accent. And with high unemployment due to the fall in tourism, there is an abundance of skilled labour available and eager to work. Fijians regard call centre work as a desirable career path. Their positive attitude towards the industry has resulted in an engaged workforce with a much lower staff turnover rate compared to Australia or New Zealand.
There are also great tax incentives, including a 13-year tax holiday offered by the Fijian Government to companies looking to invest in the industry.
Outsourcing and COVID-19
As Fiji is one of the few countries that has successfully managed COVID-19, it is business as usual in the outsourcing sector. This has put it in a great position to capitalise on the fallout from the pandemic. Global lockdown made thousands of call centre staff unavailable in traditional offshoring countries such as India and the Philippines, opening up opportunities for Fiji as organisations were forced to re-shore jobs. Furthermore, with businesses all over the world prioritising supply chain robustness and resilience in the face of the crisis, many are looking to establish smaller BPOs in different geographical locations, notes the BPO Council.
Would you like to learn more about why Fiji is more than just a holiday destination? Download our free eBook, Why Fiji is a better outsourcing destination than the Philippines.