Budget 2020-2021: Fiji need visitors; Trilateral discussions to restart travel

Tourists at Nadi International Airport. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/FT FILE

Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says uplifting local businesses and unlocking our full potential at home will go a long way.

But he says Fiji is not a big enough country to build a recovery solely off domestic consumption.

Instead, he adds “our comeback hinges on holding our place in the global economy; a position we have worked for years to establish”.

“For a start, we need visitors,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said in a usual year, Aussie and Kiwi tourists hop on flights around the world to make around 12.5 million trips overseas.

He added Fiji usually captured a sliver of that tourism action; 4 per cent and 6 per cent of the Australian and New Zealand out bound markets, respectively.

“Well, Mr Speaker, the world is closed, and it will be for some time. Oceania, on the other hand, is one of the few regions that can re-open, and Fiji is one of the few nations with the healthcare capacity, border controls and proven record of COVID-Containment to restart international tourism.

“For those good reasons, the United Kingdom recently removed any quarantine requirement for travelers to and from Fiji – a huge vote of confidence in our handling of this pandemic that we hope other nations will follow.

“After taking the first step with the ‘Bula Bubble’, we’re in trilateral discussions to restart travel between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

“So now, as New Zealand’s success against the virus has them on the fastrack to COVID-Contained status, Fiji will soon drop any quarantine requirement for New Zealand-based travelers.”

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