Chief marketing officer
Till 2019, Fiji was buzzing with tourists from all over the world. The same year, owing to a skills gap in the local industry, Emma Campbell, with over 15 years of Asia-Pacific experience, was hired by Tourism Fiji as its CMO. Her extraordinary leadership abilities, deep valuation of customers, and people-first culture proved inspirational to everyone around her.
Soon after settling in, Covid made global headlines and took a bite of the Pacific Island’s most important industry: tourism. Like everywhere else, Fiji braced for a deadly outbreak which stretched the public health system to the hilt. Border restrictions and travel curbs meant the travel industry, which contributes to nearly 40% of Fiji’s GDP—or US$930k million—and which directly or indirectly employs over 150,000 people in various industries was nearly wiped out.
Campbell had a gargantuan challenge laid out: steer Fiji tourism out of the upheaval and onto the path of recovery. At a fragile time of social, economic and public health disruption, Fiji Tourism’s communication and messaging strategy remained utmost important.
Vaccination was going to be the first big light to put the remote islands on a path of recovery and Campbell worked diligently alongside the Fijian Government on a robust vaccination communication plan to dispel rumours and roll out key information through audio, digital and traditional messaging forums. Thanks to the clear memo, locals were receptive to jabs, and nearly 80% of eligible adults were vaccinated by October 2021 allowing for the reopening of Fiji in December 2021.
Wasting no time in sitting on the laurels of the vaccination campaign, Campbell and her team were ready with a sunny promotion fronted by actor Rebel Wilson to welcome back visitors. The concept ‘Open for Happiness’ brings to life the island’s pristine shores, its rugged mountains and the six-star Vomo Island Resort. Sustainability was a major focus of Campbell’s strategic plan.
The campaign exceeded all expectations: 900+ published articles, 3.5 billion reach across 57 countries, and US$30 million AVE. And the best part: Actual incoming tourists not only met conversion KPIs but kickstarted the travel industry and improved livelihoods. Fiji’s June 2022 visitor arrivals bounced back to 75% of pre-Covid levels in 2019, a 30% jump on May 2022 tourist numbers, pointing to a strong tourism recovery.
Campbell earns a spot on this list not just for her enviable portfolio of work in a short span as an expat in Fiji, but also for her significant work outside of the office. She focussed on diversity and inclusion well before they were socially demanded CV points. Passionate about causes and creating safe environments where her team can thrive, Campbell is a true team leader mindful about the mental wellbeing and emotional health of her team.
She leans into cultural nuances that exist in Fiji, adapts her leadership style to lead her team in a way that gets the best from them. She is actively developing a talent pool within the team so that the future Tourism Fiji CMO can be a local. To bridge the skills gap, she funds a leadership library for easy access to top-class reading materials. Upskilling is important to her, and when recently onboarding a new agency partner, Campbell ensured a key selection criteria to be how much they would invest in upskilling the existing team. The agency selected was able to demonstrate how they too would be invested in building capabilities in Fiji.