Fiji still pushing for travel deal with NZ and Australia

Wednesday 7 October 2020 | Written by RNZ | Published in Small World

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Fiji still pushing for travel deal with NZ and Australia
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

Fiji’s government is pressing ahead with its ‘Bula Bubble’ concept for New Zealand and Australia, despite the two countries opting to resume travel arrangements elsewhere.

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said his country is committed to making the ‘Bula Bubble’ work with its major partners in the region.

Addressing retailers in Suva this week, the prime minister assured the business community the government is in discussion with its regional development partners on resuming travel.

“Given that Fiji is Covid-contained, given we have gone more than 170 days without a new case of the virus, given the exemplary job we have done at managing our border and given the economic urgency of resuming flows of two-way trade and tourism – we are keen to see those discussions advance past the exploratory phase and on to practical progress as soon as possible.”

Bainimarama said Fiji was expecting nearly one million visitors to its shores this year.

But he said due to the coronavirus, “border closures had cut off the flow of revenue and the ripple effects have been felt across every industry in Fiji.”

“While things are slowly getting better, we cannot kid ourselves into thinking everything is back to normal,”he said.

He said Fijian businesses are suffering due to the pandemic – in particular the “small businesses have bore a heavy burden”.

He said the government had expressed its interest to New Zealand to resume regular travel.

However Bainimarama said until Fiji’s border reopens, “most business revenues will not be what they used to”.

Meanwhile, last week, the Australian government announced it had finalised a deal for a limited travel bubble across the Tasman that would allow people to travel from New Zealand to New South Wales and the Northern Territory states quarantine-free from 16 October.

But the New Zealand PM said her country is still not ready to have quarantine-free travel.