Fiji, the South Pacific archipelago of more than 300 islands, closed its borders to tourists in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials now say the country is poised to open its borders once again.
Indeed, Fiji plans to re-open November 1, Fiji’s Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, said on the Radio Fiji One Nai Lalakai program, FBC (Fiji) News reports. That’s even earlier than an anticipated reopening on December 1.
Bainimarama says the planned reopening is based on recent developments both locally and abroad, and that the government is confident the goal will be met.
“You must have heard that Qantas has announced its international restart plan for December,” Bainimarama said. “Qantas plans to include Fiji, which has given us the confidence to open our international border by November 1.”
Earlier this week, Qantas Airways, Australia’s largest airline, announced its plans to prepare for international travel in countries with high vaccine rates to resume in December. “We’re preparing for a gradual restart of international flights from mid-December 2021, with plans linked to the vaccination rollout in Australia and key international markets,” the airline said in a statement.
A Tropical Paradise
Fiji, which is roughly two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, is 1,300 miles north of Auckland, New Zealand. The population is 939,535.
The country is famous for its rugged landscapes and palm tree-lined beaches. However, Fiji has also been called the “Soft Coral Capital of the World” by legendary undersea explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau.
Due to those coral reefs, Fiji is a spectacular place for snorkeling and SCUBA diving.
Cause For Celebration
Although the details for Fiji’s reopening have not been released, the news is welcome to the country’s population.
Tourism makes up at least 40 percent of Fiji’s gross domestic product. Since the country closed due to the pandemic, it’s estimated the country has lost approximately $1.3 million,
an ABC Radio Australia article reports. An estimated 100,000 tourism-related jobs have also been lost.
Know Before You Go
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, slightly more than 26 percent of Fiji’s residents are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, and there have been 2,261 new cases reported this week. What’s more, there have been 504 deaths from COVID-19 in Fiji, but half of them occurred in August.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19” alert for Fiji, bluntly stating “Avoid travel to Fiji.” Based on that guidance, the U.S. State Department also issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” alert, stating “Do not travel to Fiji due to COVID-19-related restrictions.”
Be sure to stay up to date on our coverage of Fiji, Australia and South Pacific, and COVID-19.