Fiji reopens border to cruise ships following 2-year ban over COVID-19

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SUVA, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Fiji has re-opened its international border to cruise ships with additional measures to reduce risks following a ban of over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All travelers aged 16 years and above, both cruise passengers and crew members, are required to be fully vaccinated with a Fiji-recognized COVID-19 vaccine and a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours prior to disembarkation at Fijian ports.

The measure announced on Wednesday also includes a valid medical travel insurance policy with international coverage of COVID-19.

According to the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Taskforce, welcoming cruise ships back into Fijian waters is a key facet of Fiji's ongoing economic recovery.

According to Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC) on Thursday, the move came six months after the resumption of air travel, which has seen over 118,000 tourist arrivals in the Pacific island nation.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, cruise companies, passengers and crew spent 44.2 million Fijian dollars (about 20.1 million U.S. dollars) annually in Fiji.

The 2018 study on the economic impact of cruise tourism in Fiji showed that each cruise ship voyage brings an average of 305,000 Fijian dollars (about 138,500 U.S. dollars) in spending per port of call.

The tourism industry, which accounts for about 35 percent of Fiji's gross domestic product and employs approximately 150,000 people directly and indirectly, is the backbone of the economy and the biggest foreign exchange earner.

As Fiji is expected to receive 447,000 tourists this year, Tourism Fiji launched its Corporate Plan 2022-2024 on May 31, setting a clear direction for the industry and its partners over the next few years to earn more money for the country.

Tourism Fiji Chair Andre Viljoen said the plan is a roadmap to take the industry towards the overarching target of 3 billion Fijian dollars (about 1.36 billion U.S. dollars) visitor expenditure by the end of 2024. Enditem

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