05 Dec 2021 By travelpulse
The South Pacific archipelagic country of Fiji reopened its borders to international travelers just yesterday, December 1, having kept them sealed since the COVID-19 pandemic’s global outbreak in March 2020. While the destination’s economy is highly dependent upon foreign tourism, its small, remote islands have limited medical facilities that it could not risk overwhelming by importing infection.
Nearly two years later, now that about 90 percent of its adult population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the island chain is once again welcoming foreign nationals from over 40 countries. Fortunately for Americans itching for an incredible tropical getaway, the United States made that particular list.
Typically, foreign tourism supplies a whopping 40 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year, and its forced closure amid the pandemic meant that around 10 percent of the population lost their jobs. Now, even a limited resumption of foreign tourism activities will help to bolster the economy for Fiji’s one million residents.
"To see the Fiji Airways plane full up and for us to welcome those tourists today was so amazing. It was a great, great feeling and I'm glad to have been there personally,” James Sowane, managing director of the Fiji tourism company Tewaka, told Reuters.
While fully vaccinated travelers from the list of approved countries are now eligible for “quarantine-free” travel to Fiji, certain entry restrictions still apply. Fiji recognizes all three COVID-19 vaccine types approved for use in the U.S. Still, all travelers over the age of 12 must present a negative PCR test taken within three days of boarding their flight to Fiji.
Upon arrival, foreign visitors must also provide proof of a confirmed booking for a minimum three-night stay at a Care Fiji Committed (CFC)-certified accommodation, as well as a confirmed CDC-approved transfer from the airport to their hotel. Foreign nationals entering the country must also have proof of insurance that will cover any COVID-related costs during their trip, purchased through their own provider or from Fiji Care.
Foreign travelers must spend their first three nights at their chosen CFC-certified hotel, where they’ll need to remain throughout that period, being permitted only to move within designated areas of their hotel, or participate in day trips and activities booked with CFC-certified tourism operators.
With the recent emergence of the Omicron variant, Fiji is taking a risk by reopening this month as planned, especially with one of its major markets, Australia, being one of the few countries to report seeing cases of Omicron thus far. Fiji had managed to rid itself of COVID-19 cases for an entire year before this year’s surge in infection fueled by the Delta variant caused nearly 700 deaths in the island nation.
AFP reported that Fiji has tightened its restrictions for travelers arriving from southern Africa (where Omicron originated) but didn’t alter the rules for “travel partner” countries, such as France, New Zealand and the U.S., and places where Omicron has already been detected, like Japan, Australia, Canada and the U.K.
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