Covid-ravaged tourist destination could open to Australia 'within months'

It’s a coronavirus hotbed, but Fiji could be preparing to welcome Australian visitors in a matter of months.

Fiji has had over 48,000 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, with more than 10,000 of those over the past 28 days, according to John Hopkins University. That’s out of a population of 900,000.

Travelers prepare to board an aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Ltd. in a domestic terminal at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia.
Passengers board a Qantas flight in Sydney in June. Source: Getty Images

Numbers have been falling in recent days. From a peak of 1405 daily cases on July 16, numbers for Tuesday were 160.

Brent Hill, the chief executive of Tourism Fiji, told Fiji’s government is committed to a robust vaccination program. Fiji hopes to open its international borders in November.

"We will open to our markets who will also open with us quarantine-free," he told the publication.

"We are still finalising all the details but it is likely that we will see some prerequisites of PCR testing [the most accurate and accepted form of Covid-19 testing] and proof of vaccinations as conditions to travel."

A woman walks on a forest footpath in Suva, Fiji.
A woman enjoys a forest in Suva, Fiji. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

The government is confident it’s begun to turn the tide with vaccinations and has started to ease a number of restrictions including curfews and outside gatherings such as funerals.

More than 560,000 Fijian adults have received their Covid-19 jab, Radio NZ reported.

Health Secretary James Fong said in a statement to RNZ it means 96.5 percent of the target population have received at least one dose and 51.1 percent are now fully vaccinated.

More than 250,000 AstraZeneca doses have also been donated to Fiji.

A health worker preparing a dose of AstraZeneca at a vaccination centre in Suva after Fiji announced plans to make the coronavirus vaccine compulsory for all workers as it battles a runaway outbreak of the Delta variant.
Suva residents wait for a Covid-19 vaccine. Source: Getty Images

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian suggested last week if 80 per cent of the state was fully vaccinated international travel could potentially resume.

Those comments were welcomed by Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways' managing director and chief executive, who said “there is no reason” why international travel with Australia can’t resume sooner rather than later as long as the government outlines its framework.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan late last month suggested if 80 per cent of Aussies were fully vaccinated by Christmas there could be travel to the UK, USA, Singapore and Japan.

"It means dollars in tourism businesses and more importantly it means security for the 660,000 people who are employed in our tourism industry,” he said.

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