Beyond the air-conditioned boardroom: Bridging western and Fijian Indigenous knowledge in tourism research
Type of content
The COVID-19 outbreak and increasing natural disasters have intensified concerns about effective water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices in Fiji’s tourism sector. Whilst Indigenous values and customs are recognised in tourism development, socially inclusive WASH research in the sector has inadequately addressed Indigenous cultural nuances, especially in Pacific communities. Drawing from the Fijian Vanua Research Framework (FVRF), a Pacific research methodology that incorporates Fijian values, relationship protocols, and ways of knowing, this research designed a culturally-sensitive and socially-inclusive methodology to respect traditional Fijian protocols, and examine hotel staff and host communities’ WASH practices. The research identified differential access to, and gaps in, the provision of WASH, and provided guidelines for future change. This paper presents the challenges of, and the lessons learnt from, the application of the methodology to field research. The methodology provided invaluable intellectual detail, resulting in the development of contextually appropriate recommendations and tools, and strengthening long-term working relationships.