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The Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA) says news that Australia has extended its international travel ban possibly to 2021 was the “worst-case scenario” for Fiji and the Pacific region.
“We heard that Qantas has cancelled all flights up to October and then the Australian Tourism Minister saying they are probably not going to allow international travel until 2021, obviously this is a concern,” said FHTA CEO Fantasha Lockington.
“I say this because whilst we were not expecting anything to happen before September or October, we were of the opinion this could stretch out to the end of the year. That was never considered but it was the worst-case scenario.”
Lockington said Fiji would have to look at the reasons behind Australia extending its international travel ban and New Zealand not opening its borders as yet. Australia and New Zealand account for about 70 per cent of visitors to Fiji annually.
“We have to look at it from the point of view of the Australian and New Zealand ministers who look after the economy and tourism — they have much bigger countries and way bigger issues than we do.
“Our people will not starve, they will find a way to survive by planting and fishing and working together as a community.”
Meanwhile, the “Bula Bubble” will allow tourists from Australia and New Zealand to come to Fiji.
Though Australia and New Zealand have yet to open their borders, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the “Bula Bubble” was something that was not going to happen overnight.
“It’s not going to happen tomorrow, it will mean in the next few weeks or maybe in a month’s time, at least we have created a pathway, we’ve laid out the requirements,” he said.
“So we are saying that we can accept Australian and New Zealand tourists under these conditions.
“And we are quite happy to allow them to come to Fiji.
“Fiji has taken the first step to creating the Bula Bubble, we are creating the bubble because majority of our tourists come from Australia and New Zealand.” Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bula Bubble had certain conditions.
“So we are saying we are opening up a Bula Bubble with them under certain conditions and recognising the fact that they have dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner that is credible to our health authorities. So, therefore, we are creating a bubble and in the same way we are creating the Pacific pathway with those countries under certain conditions.
“Now obviously, if we start getting tourists under these conditions, it will mean that those hotels can open up, it will mean that those staff that actually work in those hotels can go back to work, it means we have the international airport being operational, it will mean, as highlighted earlier on, if Fiji Airways starts providing the services, the flight attendants will need to be rehired and retrained,” he said.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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