An incident in which a Fijian soldier urinated on a Japanese woman on a plane has ended up doing “untold damage” to Fiji, the country’s main daily says in a strongly worded editorial today.
It was commenting after the international carrier Air Pacific published its annual report saying its Fiji-Japan route was performing poorly and was struggling.
The report made no mention of the incident in March last year when a drunk Fiji soldier on a flight from Japan exposed himself and then urinated on a Japanese woman in her seat.
The incident made major headlines in Japan.
In its editorial today the Fiji Times said it was an “appalling incident” that was an urgent reminder to every person in this country.
“This unforgivable offence has caused untold damage in Japan a market which Fiji has strived for decades to cultivate,” the newspaper said.
“All it takes is one moment of stupidity to paint a black picture of this nation and her people in a lucrative market. The incident has generated widespread, negative publicity at a time when we need it the least.”
The newspaper said the whole country had to “share in the shame he has brought upon his uniform and to this country”.
“Urinating on a tourist on an international flight is a high-profile incident which gains global notoriety.
“It is a brief moment which brings unwanted exposure and deprives the economy of millions of dollars in revenue.”
The newspaper said every day Fiji citizens “commit dastardly acts which have a direct impact on tourism”.
This includes people throwing trash out of buses and cars and taxi drivers cheating visitors.
“They charge exorbitant prices, claiming that somehow visitors and locals pay different fares.”
At the airport tourists are greeted by guitar strumming men in traditional Fijian garb, singing local melodies and shouting a loud “bula”.
“But just a few steps down the arrivals hall are a bunch of usual grumpy immigration officers with the annoying national habit of chewing gum while at work. This is not the welcome to paradise that tourists hope to receive.
“On the list of visitor turn-offs are the shop assistants and sword sellers who rudely hassle tourists in an effort to gain quick sales.”