Fiji reopens to foreign tourists after 20-month Covid closure

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Hundreds of tourists arrived in Fiji on Wednesday with the reopening of the country’s international borders after a 20-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was a moment thousands of Fijians have been waiting for since Covid-19 triggered the closure of borders for almost two years.

Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum together with key stakeholders were among the welcoming delegation at the Nadi International Airport in Fiji’s third largest city on the western side of Viti Levu, the main island.

Khaiyum said as the planes arrived, a lot of Fijians have returned to work and there is a real buzz of activity in the country, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the rest of the world is also opening up and Fiji needed to ensure it remains the destination of choice.

Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen said the airline and the nation have been working hard since March last year to prepare for the return of tourists.

Viljoen said a precautionary measure is applied at the airport where all travellers have to fill in a form to declare where they have been in the past 14 days.

He said the airline’s entire workforce is fully vaccinated and the new Travel Ready programme is dedicated to medical safety and wellness.

Viljoen said Fiji has multiple layers of health and safety protection protocols from Covid and its potential variants in its border-reopening framework.

Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill told a press conference in Nadi that it was outstanding to see around 75,000 bookings for the first couple of months.

Hill said they are not only receiving family travellers but also luxury and adventure travellers, who are also making bookings in hotels and resorts outside Viti Levu.

From December 1, Fiji reopened its borders to all fully vaccinated travellers from “travel partner” countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Britain and the US.

Currently, a total of 90.6 per cent of the adult eligible population in Fiji are fully vaccinated, while 97.3 per cent have received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Fiji reported its first confirmed Covid-19 case on March 19 last year and the island nation has recorded more than 52,000 Covid-19 cases in total, with 696 deaths.

According to the health authorities, Fiji may see a third wave of Covid-19 outbreak because of excessive gatherings expected over Christmas and the New Year.

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