‘Goal to reopen by December’

Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport Faiyaz Koya. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport and relevant industry partners have developed a re-opening framework.

According to Minister Faiyaz Koya, Fiji’s goal was to safely re-open travel and tourism by December 2021 which was predicated at national vaccination rates.

“Our preparation is largely attributed to how we have come together, with a shared vision, to ramp up coordination,” he said.

“With the support of industry partners such as Fiji Airways, Tourism Fiji, Society of Fiji Travel Associates (SOFTA), Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA), and technical expertise of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), we have developed a re-opening framework.”

Mr Koya said the travel proposition had two goals, which were to minimise risks and keep both tourists and Fijians safe as well as ease restrictions to maintain competitiveness.

“The framework will essentially look at national and individual factors that determine eligibility to travel to Fiji.

“National factors will largely focus on acceptable test positivity and vaccination rates, as well as any new variant of concern. And, of course, on an individual level, we will look at vaccination status.”

However, there were a number of checks and balances needed to be made.

“The COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce (CRMT), which comprises the ministries of Economy, Health and Medical Services and Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, is working behind the scenes to set the conditions for international travel,” said Mr Koya.

“We are exploring all options and refining our criteria to determine low, moderate and high-risk countries (traffic light system), given the evolving nature of COVID-19 and its variants.”

He added they were working closely with the Market Development Facility (MDF), Tourism Fiji and FHTA to keep tabs on visitor sentiments in their key markets, undertaking comprehensive market surveys in order to strategise their re-entry.

“We are pleased to share that Fiji is still top of mind as a favoured leisure destination in our key markets such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and Canada.

“It is a clear signal that when we open our borders, there will be keen holidaymakers who are ready to travel to Fiji.”

The tourism industry was said to have received the 2021-2022 National Budget positively and was confident it would provide a solid foundation for re-opening.

Mr Koya said the majority of operators were reporting 100 per cent vaccination statuses and putting in policies to ensure their suppliers and contractors were fully vaccinated as well.

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