“We’re working on our own bubble — a Bula Bubble — between Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.”
Bula is a greeting that means hello or welcome in Fijian.
In a typical year, tourism is responsible for 40 per cent of Fiji’s gross national product (GDP), and Australia and New Zealand are its two biggest markets.
Prime Ministers Scott Morrison (of Australia) and Jacinda Ardern (of New Zealand) have yet to comment on the Fijian proposal.
How would it work?
Arriving passengers will also have to present a negative coronavirus test, completed no more than 48 hours before their flight.
Bainimarama referred to arrival channels for these approved travelers as VIP lanes — with VIP, in this case, standing for “vacation in paradise.”
Fiji Airways, the national flag carrier airline, and the national tourism body, Tourism Fiji, will be the government’s primary partners in the project, he said. A list of approved hotels for quarantining has not yet been released.
Bainimarama said he also hopes to open a Pacific pathways program to visitors from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga, with possible inclusions of Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, if the initial stages are successful.
Visitors hoping to come to Fiji by sea instead of air can enter Fijian waters, if they meet certain criteria.
Those on personal vessels who can show proof they have been at sea for at least 14 days will be tested for coronavirus upon arrival, while those who have not been will need to quarantine while docked in Fiji at their own expense.
Visitors are responsible for paying for their coronavirus tests.
Cruise ships, however, are banned indefinitely.
No time frame has been establish for the Bula Bubble and, while a “trans-Tasman travel bubble” that would permit leisure tourism between Australia and New Zealand was first discussed in May, no firm plans have yet been announced.