2016 ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards
Having been in the tourism and hospitality business for more than three decades, Manasa Ragigia still has the same passion for his job as he did when he first started.
At 65, he has long passed the retirement age but with his experience and hospitable personality, it is no surprise that his employers are reluctant to let him go.
This year, the food and beverage supervisor at Yasawa Island Resort and Spa was named the winner of the inaugural Fiji Pride Champion award at the 19th ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards (FETA).
While receiving the award, Mr Ragigia was unable to contain his emotions.
“I feel so happy to receive this award,” he told this newspaper in an interview.
Originally from Bukama Village in Yasawa, Mr Ragigia began his foray in the tourism industry after securing a job as a bartender for Plantation Island Resort in 1972.
However, when news of a new resort being built near his village reached him, Mr Ragigia decided to pack his bags and head back home.
And that is where he has been for the past 27 years.
“I was about to retire and go home when I was 55 but my boss asked me to stay back and work at the resort and that’s where I am until now.
“I love my job because not only do I get to help my country, I also meet a lot of people from all around the world.”
He says one of the highlights of his job has been welcoming numerous returning guests, including couples from the US and Australia who have visited the resort more than 20 times.
“I don’t know when I’m going home but right now, I want to spend my time doing what I love most. I also want to dedicate the award to my family. I have three sons and three granddaughters so I’m very happy to share my trophy with them tonight.”
Mr Ragigia hopes to improve the lives of his fellow people in the Yasawas, which led him to help campaign to have Development Plan Nine changed to allow tourism in the Yasawas.
Apart from this, he is also the resort spokesperson and liaises with the village and partakes in discussions with the mataqali, turaga-ni-koro, local village directors and village chiefs.
This article first appeared in the Fiji Times.