SUVA | Fiji, whose economy largely depends on tourism is at a standstill, want to create a “bubble” virus-free in the South Pacific for travellers from Australia and New Zealand where the majority of their customer base.
The “bubble Bula” — a word that means “hello” in fijian — would offer a VIP area as soon as the descent of the aircraft to the tourists of these two countries that would be transported in an isolated resort.
Canberra and Wellington have already begun in may of the discussions to create their own “bubble” joint which would be removed from both sides of the Tasman sea and travel restrictions taken against the coronavirus, with the intention of extending it to the Pacific islands. But the trips remain restricted to the interior of Australia, where new homes have appeared around Melbourne and a lifting of restrictions to cross the Tasman sea seems to be unlikely before September.
“While Australia and New Zealand to develop their “bubble”, the success is at least equivalent to, or higher than, Fiji, in the fight against the virus puts us in a position to open the pathway in the Pacific,” said fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama.
“Take advantage of Fiji”
“The “bubble Bula” will allow Australians and new Zealanders to enjoy what Fiji offer better while staying away from other travelers and potential of the population”, he assured.
Subsequently, the quarantine measures will be removed for all visitors tested negative and coming from a country stamped by the Fiji as having mastered the COVID-19, a-t-he added without further clarification.
Fiji, which account 930 000 inhabitants, have been one of the first countries to control the virus. The archipelago was announced on 5 June will be rid of him after 45 days without a new case, after you have officially registered since the beginning of march 18 confirmed cases, no deaths and a cure rate of 100 %.
The reopening of the borders, however, presents the risk of a reintroduction of the virus, regardless of the precautions taken.
“The industry really wants to see the borders open, but everyone knows that the threat of the coronavirus is very real,” recognizes Fantasha Lockington, director general of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association (FHTA), which is waiting anxiously to know ‘when is this going to be open to new and how to prepare for it”.
Since march, foreign travellers have suddenly stopped coming on the heavenly beaches bordered with palm, and tens of thousands of Fijians find themselves without a job.
“Return to work”
Tourism represents about 40 % of the economy, according to the government. Taking into account the induced employment, this would be more like 60 %, considers the FHTA. The authorities fear a contraction of the economy by more than a fifth.
Mr. Lockington is estimated that up to 98 % of people working in tourism have lost their jobs.
The airline company Fiji Airways has removed more than half of its workforce due to the collapse of her income.
For many people, tourism is vital for decades and has helped overcome natural disasters, and the decline of the sugar industry and clothing industry.
“We would like that the borders re-opened soon so that everyone can return to work”, said Ben Danford, a tourist guide to unemployment who, like his colleagues, has turned to farming to earn his living.
Australia and New Zealand provide some 70 % of tourism in the archipelago, ensures the AFP Jim Saukuru, general manager of the hotel Treasure Island.
Installed on the white sand beaches of the islands of Mamanuca, to the west of the main island, the residence has sacked 130 people and now work with 14 employees.
“The tourism sector is at a standstill,” Mr Saukuru who fervently hopes that Australia and New Zealand open.