Fiji’s Minister for Commerce, Tourism, Trade and Transport Faiyaz Koya said a framework is being developed, in collaboration with other stakeholders including the Ministry of Health and Fiji Airways, to guide the safe reopening of the sector.
Addressing participants during a Tourism Fiji Webinar today, he said the framework will serve two purposes, the first being to ensure the safety of tourists and locals and secondly, to ease restrictions to maintain competitiveness.
“We are looking at medical and digital infrastructure, looking at market agility. This means having to consider frequency and platforms of testing for visitors, determining which markets to accept on what conditions, setting up vaccine passports and mutual recognition, creating a seamless travel authorisation portal, determining where tourists go in Fiji. There are a whole host of factors,” Koya said.
“It’s an incredibly important piece of work and one that is being worked on collectively with the key Government stakeholders, Tourism Fiji, Fiji Airways and the Tourism Recovery Team (which has representatives from the tourism industry).”
He could not provide a timeline to attendees as to when the framework will be ready so as to guide their respective reopening plans, reassuring them of the ministry’s commitment to the reopening of the borders, and in the safest possible manner.
“I know the big question on everyone’s mind is when a formal re-opening announcement will be made. I know this is important to help you solidify your plans for re-opening. At this stage, we are working very hard behind the scenes on finalising the re-opening framework. As soon as it’s finalised, we will be sharing it with you, so you can also put your re-opening plans into motion. So please take comfort in knowing that safely re-opening the borders is our utmost priority.”
The ministry is also keeping a close eye on the progress made in the vaccination front as well as positivity rate, in particular cases and deaths in the western division, reminding stakeholders that adherence to COVID-safe protocols is also pivotal in deciding the timing of when the borders should be reopened.
“We can achieve this if we all do our part by inculcating a certain degree of COVID-safe mannerism amongst ourselves, our staff, and our customers. So we don’t only depend on our national vaccination targets, but on maintaining a culture of COVID safe practice. The basic measures of wearing face-covering, maintaining 2 metres physical distance, frequent hand washing — are all part of this new culture that we need to live by every day. Contact tracing will always remain an integral part of the business. We need to see the careFIJI app as a longer-term investment for when our case numbers have reduced and we shift our strategy from mitigation to containment once again.
“With COVID-safe behaviour, we will reduce our community transmission and give confidence that Fiji is a safe holiday destination and will not be a source of cases in their respective countries. I am confident with all our collective effort we will achieve the desired outcomes and create a safe environment to welcome back tourists. “
Source: Fijian Government