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Omicron variant: the planet is barricaded, Fiji’s beaches open to tourists



“We got married last Saturday and we’re going to have our honeymoon in Fiji, that’s perfect. “ For this Australian couple interviewed by the ABC channel before boarding Air Fiji’s first plane to Nadi in nearly two years, the dream has come true. “We wanted to go to Japan, which has closed its borders, then to Tasmania, which also closed its borders… Fiji is opening their doors to us and it’s great. “ The appearance of the new Omicron variant paralyzes the planet but has not dissuaded the authorities of this archipelago in the South Pacific from reopening its borders and… its paradisiacal beaches.

Tourism accounts for 40% of Fiji’s income

Andre Viljoen is all smiles. Present at Nadi Airport, on the main island of Viti Levu, the Managing Director of Fiji Airways welcomes the first tourists amidst native chants and “Bula” (Hello). “This event is capital” after twenty difficult months for this archipelago (independent of the United Kingdom since 1970), where tourism represents 40% of the total economy and brings in 2 billion euros per year (followed by sugar cane, cocoa and coconut oil).

Fiji, however, has tightened restrictions on arrivals from southern Africa but has not changed the rules for “partner” countries, whose citizens can afford a tropical getaway to this Pacific paradise. These are New Zealand (1,700 km), Australia and the United States, Japan, France (16,500 km), Canada and Great Britain. “The incoming flights are full and we have registered around 75,000 bookings for the next two months, which is remarkable”, said Fiji Tourism Board General Manager Brent Hill.

No quarantine but a PCR test

Nevertheless, certain formalities remain essential, starting with a negative PCR test carried out 72 hours before departure and a reservation in a “certified” hotel. Tourists will also need to have a complete vaccination schedule. Once in Fiji, tourists will stay in specific areas (hotels, beaches, surrounding small islands) where all their contacts will be fully vaccinated. But they won’t do any quarantine.

“The public is informed that if the Omicron variant is indeed more transmissible than the Delta variant, it will be inevitable that it arrives in Fiji”, estimated the Fiji health department. The archipelago, which has more than 300 islands, managed to wipe out Covid-19 for the first twelve months before a devastating second wave of the Delta variant caused nearly 700 deaths in this country of barely one million. ‘residents. But contaminations have fallen (77 cases for the month of November) and the adult vaccination rate exceeds 90%.

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