WHEN you’re planning your travels for borders opening, there are some great reasons to have Fiji at the top of your list, writes Sarah Beyer.
After the year we had in 2020, and with not a lot of certainty for the future of travelling overseas, it can be hard to be enthusiastic about planning a holiday. But studies have shown that actively looking forward to things is really important for our mental health so now is the perfect time to plan a trip. When it comes to your next holiday, safety, relaxation, time with family and giving back are all important when choosing the destination and luckily, Fiji ticks all those boxes!
As we’ve discovered living in Australia, being an island makes it much easier to protect ourselves from COVID, and that’s even more true for Fiji. Of the few cases that the nation has had, almost all have been associated with travellers coming from overseas in the early days of the pandemic, or have been picked up in quarantine since it was implemented in July 2020. As of the beginning of February this year, it had been 291 days since the last case outside of quarantine. Once the borders open safely, you can be assured that there are no low levels of COVID circling undetected in Fiji!
2. CARE FIJI COMMITMENT
Unfortunately we know that COVID isn’t necessarily going to disappear when we resume travelling, even if we have vaccines to protect us. So in order to keep travellers safe, Tourism Fiji has introduced the Care Fiji Commitment, a program which includes enhanced safety, health and hygiene protocols. The program follows the World Health Organisation guidelines to ensure thorough and consistent risk mitigation measures are practiced throughout the islands.
These include testing, clear procedures for suspected cases, drop-in fever clinics, Wellness Ambassadors who help implement protocols and provide peace of mind for travellers with COVID-19 questions and a contact tracing app. Over 200 of Fiji’s resorts, restaurants, tour operators and attractions have gone through training as part of the Care Fiji Commitment. The program also asks guests to postpone their travel if they feel unwell, and adhere to social distancing and mask regulations where required when they are in Fiji.
Borders are likely to open up first to close destinations, like the Pacific and New Zealand, meaning most likely we’ll be able to travel to them sooner than the US and Europe. If you’re itching to get out of Australia, Fiji is nice and close to our shores, with flights only just over 3.5 hours from most of the Aussie east coast.
4. OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE
Fiji is a destination that pleases everyone. Across the nation there are options to suit multi-generation families travelling together, whether they are on small or big budgets, including residences and family-friendly resorts. If you’re someone who wants to get your heart pumping on your holiday, Fiji offers adventurous trekking, diving or surfing. There are romantic getaways in villas and private islands. Cruise buffs can experience small ship cruising around the country’s islands, and there are options for long stays or short breaks, depending on how much time you have.
5. ISLAND BEAUTY
While Fiji’s white sands and turquoise waters are probably what you imagine when planning a trip, the nation also has stunning waterfalls, lush tropical rainforests, rugged coastline and drastic mountain tops. The island of Taveuni is often referred to as the ‘garden island’, with 80% of its surface covered by rainforest. That said, if beaches are more your jam, Fiji is made up of 333 islands so you’re sure to find one that tickles your fancy. And with so many but a fairly small population, more often than not you’re likely to find a beach all to yourself. Certainly they’ll never be overcrowded (something which is even more important in a post-COVID world). The islands are also warm year-round, with temperatures ranging from 26 to 31C and have plenty of fresh produce and locally-caught fish.
Although there certainly is something for everyone in Fiji, when it comes to family-friendly options, the nation is an absolute standout. Nearly every hotel and resort has nannies or a kids club, meaning mum and dad can have a holiday as well (and get a break from the endless home schooling that 2020 seemed to bring).
Passing down culture and community is very important to the Fijian people, and that is reflected in the way that they look after children. You can be assured that your kids won’t just be entertained at kids club, but also taught about the wider world, including learning local traditions and getting involved in conservation projects, such as those at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Treasure Island Resort, VOMO and Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort.
7. LOCAL SMILES
Tourism is a huge part of the Fijian economy, contributing almost 40% of the nation’s GDP. One in eight Fijians works in tourism and the sector is the most significant industry among Fiji’s international trade sectors. It is understandable then that the measures implemented to protect the nation from the pandemic have had a huge impact on the locals.
Despite the hardships, Fijians are resilient. According to the Gallup International Global Survey on Happiness, Hope and Optimism, Fijians are the happiest in the world, and many hotels have pitched in to help out villages and raise funds to support the community.
Visiting Fiji once borders open will help inject some needed dollars into the economy, and you can be assured that the Fijian people will be ready to welcome you as always with their famous welcoming smiles.