Fiji welcomes first tourists in 20 months

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The Pacific Island nation reopened its border to foreign travelers on December 1

After stringently locking down in March 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19, yesterday saw the welcome return of tourism to Fiji.

In October, Faiyaz Koya, Fiji’s Minister for Tourism, made a speech in which he described the prospective reopening as “extraordinarily good news”.

Although tourism contributes to around 40% of Fiji’s GDP, he went on to say, “When we talk about opening the travel industry, it’s not just about the tourists that come […] — it’s about our visiting family, friends and relatives who also may be a part of this particular community.” A significant number of Fijiians emigrate to larger countries, such as Australia and the US.

Artistic angled shot of Hindu temple in NadiWith the vast majority of Fijians fully vaccinated, public life is comparatively normal — Shutterstock

The decision to allow tourists to come to Fiji again after nearly two years was motivated partly by the country’s high vaccination rate — approximately 90% of adults are now fully immunized. Tourists from “Travel Partner” countries must be fully vaccinated themselves, and able to present proof of a negative PCR test taken no sooner than three days in advance of arrival.

“Our message to these fully vaccinated, COVID-tested travellers is simple: Welcome Home.” — Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama stated on Twitter yesterday.

Australia, one of the few countries to have recorded instances of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19, is one of Fiji’s Travel Partner countries. It is estimated that a large proportion of the incoming tourists will come directly from Australia. However, concerns surrounding the potential spread of the Omicron strain have not been officially addressed.

In addition to vaccination and testing requirements, all travelers need to arrive with proof of accommodation for at least three nights in a hotel certified by Care Fiji Committed (CFC) — a nationwide initiative implemented to tackle the epidemic. They must also have taken out travel insurance that explicitly covers Covid-19 treatment.

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