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Fiji Open to Visitors and Targeting North American Advisors


Fiji, the South Pacific nation of more than 300 islands, is open for visitors and is stepping up efforts to attract North American travelers and to connect with travel advisors, according to Ruth Daly, regional director of North America for Tourism Fiji.

She said that the country opened its borders to vaccinated tourists on Dec. 1 and is continually “chipping away” at entry requirements, including recently allowing for rapid COVID-19 tests rather than the previously mandated PCR tests. An impressive 94% of Fijians are vaccinated, according to Daly.

Daly was on the first international flight into Fiji, arriving Dec. 1, and spent 27 days there, enjoying what she calls a “welcome beyond expectations” in the tradition of the country’s Bula spirit. Bula, she said, means, hello and help but also describes a strong tradition of hospitality. What sets the destination apart, said Daly, is thar sense of hospitality where “you arrive as a visitor, but leave as part of the family.” With a village-based system of community, said Daly, “Fijians wake up in the morning with a mission of being kind and generous to others.”

Fiji, said Daly, appeals to many travel demographics, including romance and honeymoon, adventure, multi-generational families and a growing focus on the MICE (meetings, incentives, conference, exhibition) market. Fiji has had a high profile in recent years with the TV show “Survivor” being filmed there for the past 10 years. Daly emphasized that there are options for travelers “at all price points,” adding, “Fiji is not just a luxury destination.”

Australia, said Daly, is responsible for the largest percentage of visitors, followed by New Zealand and then North America with 12% of arrivals. “We have our eye on catching New Zealand,” said Daly.

Tourism Fiji, said Daly, has recently relaunched its travel advisors training platform. Now called Matai (meaning expert), the platform offers agents all the information they need, including health protocols. It also has comprehensive sales and marketing tools like media banners and digital marketing assets. Many wholesalers offer a wide variety of programs to Fiji.

Fiji Airways, which flies A350 aircraft, offers daily flights from Los Angles and three-times-weekly service from San Francisco. The flight is just over 10 hours. The carrier is part of the Oneworld airline alliance, providing easy connections from around the U.S. and the opportunity to earn and use American Airlines and Alaska Airlines loyalty rewards.

A British colony for over 100 years – until 1970 – Fiji is a multi-cultural nation with about 60% of people of Melanesian background and 40% of its population of 900,000 of Indian heritage. As a result, said Daly, the cuisine, the clothing and culture are all varied and colorful, offering a holiday that adds many layers to its core appeal of “333 drop-dead gorgeous South Pacific islands.”

There are two major islands — Viti Levu, the largest, and Vanua Levu, second largest. where major resorts were able to open immediately after Dec. 1. The destination is also well known, said Daly, for smaller, more remote resorts of under 50 or even under 20 rooms – that are very popular with honeymooners. They will be opening over the next few months. In May, said Daly, Fiji’s Tourism Expo – the country’s premier industry event – will be returning in person for the first time since before the pandemic.

Viti Levu, said Daly, is of comparable size to the Big Island of Hawaii with many options for activities including a dazzling variety of watersports. And Vanua Levu is of a similar size and topography to Maui with lots of rainforest and waterfalls. Among the most popular activities, said Daly, is visiting a village and meeting locals. “There are lots of beautiful destinations in the world,” said Daly, “but Fiji touches your heart because you are surrounded by hugs and love.”

On the MICE front, Denarau Island, 20 minutes from the airport, has many hotels carrying major brands like Marriott, InterContinental, Sofitel and Shangri-La – all with 300 rooms and more – and a standalone convention center. As result, the island can host groups of up to 3,500. Incentives are a popular option. Also popular is renting out an entire island – of the country’s 300 -plus islands, 100 are inhabited.

Aside from the vaccination requirement, visitors must have COVID-19 quarantine coverage as part of their travel insurance. A policy is available through the Care Fiji government platform for about $39. In addition, visitors must stay for the first three nights in a property that follows the Care Fiji Commitment, which includes the great majority of properties that have gone through training about cleanliness and hygiene.

Looking ahead, said Daly, with the sheer population of North America, “there is so much potential for growth here. We are bullish on Fiji as the perfect post-Covid destination with everything anybody needs for their eyes and for their soul.”

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