Travelers looking for a tropical escape will soon have one more destination to choose from. Fiji is readying to welcome visitors once again toward the end of the year after a successful vaccine campaign among tourism workers reaches 100%.
TravelPulse caught up with Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill to discuss how the island nation is readying to bring visitors back.
"It's quite a detailed and lengthy process to work through, starting with how to make sure our product is ready and at the international level that we want," said Hill. "There are all the elements around what protocols we put in place to keep both locals and tourists safe. We want people to feel incredibly safe coming to Fiji."
With 100% of its target population, those who work in tourism and with tourists, vaccinated, reopening to international guests with no quarantine is right around the corner. Hill praised the vaccination rate and the campaign to get so many inoculated.
"This will give tourists some level of assurance," said Hill.
Major public figures got behind the vaccination campaign, and the Fijian people understand the value of what vaccination means to a country so heavily reliant on tourism.
"When people hear that they can protect their health and get back to work, they are like 'sign me up,'" said Hill.
As the country nears reopening, Tourism Fiji is working with airlines to streamline protocols for entry, which will be for fully vaccinated visitors with rapid testing at the airport before departure. Visitors will also need to have travel insurance for COVID-19 in case there is any reason for quarantine, hospitalization or evacuation. Testing will also be offered at resorts for those returning to countries where a test is needed.
On the ground, Fiji also has specific protocols in place for businesses, including its Care Fiji Commitment, which is a WHO-approved standard of best-practice health and safety measures designed to align the industry to safe travel norms in a post-COVID world.
Hill's hope is that these protocols will allow visitors to relax and enjoy their vacations.
"You will be able to do a whole bunch of things without thinking about COVID every single minute of the day," said Hill.
Of course, reopening won't happen instantaneously, but Hill said that many properties in Fiji will be open when visitors are welcomed back.
"Half of the hotels will be open right from the get-go," he said. "Some of the smaller properties on some of the remote islands are not able to get their staff out there yet. So they might not be open on December 1, but by January possibly."
Bookings are opening now, and Hill expects to see a large uptick in visitors when reopening occurs.
"Hotels are getting a lot of inquiries right now, which is fabulous," said Hill. "People are starting to hear that Fiji is opening up and wanting to come."
He also highlighted that some of the flights and packages coming out at the moment, ahead of the reopening, are incredible.
No matter what, Hill said that travelers will be receiving a warm Fiji welcome when they arrive.
"The one thing I can say is that the Fijians can't wait to have tourists back again."
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