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Why Fiji is Number One For Australian Travellers

Now Fiji’s resorts are full of Australians after the country became the first Pacific nation to open to Australian tourists quarantine-free. Late last year, any vaccinated Australian visitor could enter the country if they passed a pre-departure PCR or Rapid Antigen Test and a subsequent RAT within their resort 48 hours later. In further good news, this changed to 24 hours from April 7.
14 Apr 2022 18:05
Why Fiji is Number One For Australian Travellers
Malamala Beach Club off Nadi is the world’s first beach club.

Sitting in air conditioning all day, getting paid to talk, makes Tourist Transport Fiji driver feel like the prime minister in parliament.

Abdul’s only been back behind the wheel since Fiji opened up on December 1.

“When you travellers were gone, I went into construction just to feed my kids,” he says.

 

“But I’m over 50, it was hard work and there was little money.”

Driver, Bawan Sharin, lost his car, then his house, unable to meet repayments with meagre part-time work available when COVID shut down Fiji’s tourism.

“A lot of us have worked in tourism since we left school,” he says.

“That’s all we know.

“Then there were no tourists.”

 

Now Fiji’s resorts are full of Australians after the country became the first Pacific nation to open to Australian tourists quarantine-free.

Late last year, any vaccinated Australian visitor could enter the country if they passed a pre-departure PCR or Rapid Antigen Test and a subsequent RAT within their resort 48 hours later.

In further good news, this changed to 24 hours from April 7.

In the first few months since international borders opened, Fiji has become Australia’s number one overseas destination by a considerable margin.

Tourism Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Brent Hill.

Tourism Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Brent Hill.

How Did Fiji Manage To Pull Off The Great Holiday Heist?
“It had a lot to do with the government,” Tourism Fiji chief executive officer, Brent Hill says.

“Tourism is so important to Fiji, it makes up 40 per cent of its GDP. “Government worked with the tourism industry’s decision-makers to ensure we opened sooner than other countries.

“It’s been a masterstroke.

“Vaccination has been tied to opening, so everyone in Fiji felt a part of the journey.

 

“We set goals and we stuck to every one of them – we picked a date to open and we didn’t waver from that.”

Not that there haven’t been obstacles along the way.

In the first month of opening, Omicron tore through Australia; but Fiji stayed open, with an overall COVID positivity rate of less than one per cent (those who test positive in Fiji must quarantine in their hotel room for seven days).

“We had to respond quickly, there was a lot of talk about closing Fiji up again, but we stayed open,” Mr Hill says.

 

“We designed a testing system for tourists, and that was different to other countries.

It was much more simple to be tested in Fiji than it was to be tested in Australia.

“We made sure tourists didn’t have to line up in downtown clinics, they didn’t even have to leave their resorts.”

On a recent visit, my COVID-19 test 48 hours after my arrival required no appointment, I simply turned up for a RAT within my resort where a room is set aside for staff from the Ministry Of Health.

Twenty minutes later, I have my results while I wait at the bar.

 

Tourists from Australia arrive in Nadi on April 5, 2022. Photo: Mereleki Nai

Tourists from Australia arrive in Nadi on April 5, 2022. Photo: Mereleki Nai

By the end of last month [March] almost 70,000 tourists had visited Fiji since its December 1 opening; though April looks like being Fiji’s most popular month by far, with 30,000-plus visitors booked already.

May has more than 40,000 bookings, while the winter months of June, July and August have long been Fiji’s most popular months for Australians to visit.

All this despite the fact other destinations have opened up since, particularly Australia’s previous number one overseas destination, Bali (the Cook Islands is also set to open from April 12.)

 

 

Some travellers who arrived from Australia at Nadi International Airport, on January 23, 2022. Photo: Mereleki Nai

Some travellers who arrived from Australia at Nadi International Airport, on January 23, 2022. Photo: Mereleki Nai

“I think Bali is a lot different to Fiji,” Mr Hill says.

“We have major advantages as a place to go during COVID.

“There’s more open spaces, beaches and private islands, so I think Australians consider Fiji safer.

“I think Australian travellers are still worried about overseas travel and Fiji seems a good place for them to start doing it again.

 

“The other huge advantage we have over Bali is we’ve already had four months of this system, and it’s working beautifully, so we have runs on the board.”

Being back here reminds me no matter how exotic Fiji feels – for despite its proximity to Australia, it is nothing like Australia – there’s a sense of comfort in being in the South Pacific that you don’t feel in other destinations.

Locals won’t try to sell you anything and petty crime is negligible.

 

An aerial image of Marriott Momi Bay Resort.

An aerial image of Marriott Momi Bay Resort.

At the Marriott Momi Bay, guest Bob Lambie sits at the table next to me weeping as staff sing him Isa Lei, the Fijian farewell song.

“Sorry,” he apologises.

“They’re just such beautiful people.”

It’s no surprise to Mr Hill.

 

“What we’ve heard is visitors are talking about how special the human connection with Fijians has been,” Mr Hill says.

“Australians spent so much time avoiding people for two years, that they’re craving attention, and Fiji’s the place for that.”

So here’s your up-to-the-minute guide on where to experience that warmest of welcomes.

 

South Sea Crusies in the Yasawa Islands. Source: www.pacific-destinations.com

South Sea Crusies in the Yasawa Islands. Source: www.pacific-destinations.com

The Resorts
Fiji has a resort for every traveller, and every budget; from humble two-star establishments to the most revered private island resorts on Earth, frequented by Hollywood stars.

Mel Gibson owns his own island retreat here.

Many travellers opt for family-friendly Denarau Island, just 20 minutes from Nadi International Airport.

There’s the Sheraton Fiji Golf and Beach Resort, which completed a $48 million refurbishment in late March.

 

Only an extra 20 minutes from the airport, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi offers overwater bungalows in an isolated bay amongst green rolling hills.

The Coral Coast starts an hour from the airport, and is where you’ll find Fiji’s longest established resorts.

The Shangri-La Yanuca Island is set on its own private island connected by a causeway, with a design inspired by a traditional Fijian village; while the InterContinental and The Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort have been popular with Australians for decades.

 

You don’t have to travel much longer to stay on your own island.

The Manamuca archipelago is made up of 20 islands, easily accessible from Port Denarau, including some of the South Pacific’s most iconic resorts like Vomo Island Resort.

Just beyond, the Yasawas also offer 20 islands, with several private island resorts.

 

An island in the Mamanucas.

An island in the Mamanucas.

Fiji vs Bali
Environment
Fiji is renowned for its lack of litter and pollution and locals have long been fastidious about cleanliness.

Bali has long had issues with pollution, with many of its beaches covered in plastic litter, though clean-ups have resolved some of the issues.

 

-Proximity
Fiji is just under four hours from Australia’s east coast airports, with only a 20-minute transfer to its popular Denarau Island resorts.
Bali is about six hours’ flying time from Sydney and Melbourne.

 

– Safety
You won’t need to lock your valuables in a safe in any resort in Fiji.Aside from a few areas in Suva, you won’t have to consider protecting your valuables at all.

Petty crime is common in Bali.

Always lock your valuables in the hotel safe.

 

– Food
Fiji relies on its tasty local produce and the spicy dishes from its Indian population.

Bali is now home to some of south-east Asia’s best restaurants, run by chefs with Michelin-star ratings.

On the streets, locals prepare delicious meals on wood-fired grills for passing tourists.

 

– Resorts
Fiji has some of the Pacific’s top private island resorts – and Bali has some of the best luxury resorts in all south-east Asia, so both cater well for the uber-wealthy.

Both Fiji and Bali offer a variety of family-friendly resorts, from two-star to five-star, with all-inclusive packages to choose between.

The details: fiji.travel myfiji.com traveller.com.au/fiji

 

Fiji Airways A330 taking off from Sydney enroute to Nadi. Photo airliners.net

Fiji Airways A330 taking off from Sydney enroute to Nadi. Photo airliners.net

Fly
Fiji Airways flies twice daily to Fiji from Sydney from April 1; five times a week from Melbourne, and three times a week from Brisbane.

See fijiairways.com Virgin (virginaustralia.com.au), Jetstar (jetstar.com.au) and Qantas (qantas.com.au) fly from Australia’s east coast.

 

Health
From April 7, all vaccinated travellers are allowed into Fiji provided they complete a pre-departure PCR or RAT, and have a pre-booked RAT within 24 hours of arrival.

Guests no longer have to have a pre-booked three night stay at a Care Fiji Commitment hotel.

 

Feedback: ranobab@fijisun.com.fj



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