Destinations

‘Bula Bubble’ sets sail: Fiji’s PM outlines safe tourism plan, with yachters to quarantine by boat

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has outlined the country’s plans for a new ‘Bula Bubble’ for safe tourism between Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

After lobbying for Fiji to be more than just a “second-class consideration” in trans-Tasman travel ‘bubble’ talks earlier this month, Bainimarama has outlined his government’s plan to welcome travellers back to his country.

In an announcement shared by Fiji’s Department of Immigration, the prime minister explained that his government would be working alongside Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji to welcome visitors from both Australia and New Zealand to holiday “in a manner that is carefully controlled and safely insulated”.

“Everywhere they go will be wholly dedicated to others who match the same criteria, safely guided by what will be called ‘VIP lanes’, allowing them to vacation in paradise,” he said.

Fiji is all but clear of coronavirus, with the country having not recorded a COVID-19 case in over two months, according to Bainimarama.

In order to travel, the prime minister said visitors would be required to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country.

Travellers would also be required to provide proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji.

At such a point, travellers would then be immediately able to start their Bula Bubble holiday within confined VIP lanes.

Another option would be to complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test could clear them to start their Bula Bubble vacation.

Bainimarama did not share a start date for the Bula Bubble. However, the Australian government has banned most overseas travel due to the pandemic and recently pushed back the date for international borders to reopen, but maintained travel agreement exemptions could bypass the ban.

Under the Bula Bubble plan, all traveller movement would be contained within the VIP lanes, starting on the aeroplane, then from the Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel, where travellers would remain throughout their stay.

The government will also establish ‘Pacific Pathways’, starting with all travellers from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga.

And to the delight of sailors, Fiji is also establishing safe ‘blue lanes’ for yachts and pleasure craft sailing into the country.

Anyone on yachts at sea for less than 14 days will be required to complete the balance of the isolation period at dock before entering Fiji, with entry to be limited to Port Denarau Marina, and travellers must test negative on arrival.

The news comes amid murmurs Australia and New Zealand’s trans-Tasman travel ‘bubble’ could be pushed back, following the news that coronavirus has been reintroduced into New Zealand.

Travel Weekly has contacted Tourism Fiji for comment.


Featured image: iStock/7Michael

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