The Pacific Island of Fiji has said it is keen to join the proposed Australia-New Zealand Trans Tasman travel bubble, and sees it as a route to reopening its devastated tourism industry.
Australian and New Zealand visitors account for about 75% of Fiji’s tourists and 100,000 people on the island have thought to have lost their jobs due to the impact of Covid-19.
The Rosie Travel Group, operator of two resorts, is just one tourism business on Fiji that has had to stand down 600 workers without pay because the business has no income coming in.
But Australian Federal Liberal MP and Co-convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of the Pacific Group Dave Sharma is confident travel resume to some Pacific Island countries this year. “I’d be hesitant to put a timetable on it, but I expect towards the end of this year — 2020,” he said,
“Once we have established travel arrangements across the Tasman, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said we will ‘explore opportunities to expand the concept to members of our broader Pacific family’,” Sharma added.
However, Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said: “We’ve obviously put our hand up, we want to look at how we can place ourselves in a more prime position.”
Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, said the “hard work” in terms of creating travel arrangements will be worked on by Australia and New Zealand in the initial stages of any ‘travel bubble’.
Fiji has recorded 18 cases of Covid-19, and no new cases in the four weeks to 19 May.
Vanuatu and the Cook Islands – with economies also reliant on tourism – have also expressed interest in the regional travel bubble.