Fiji pushes for a ‘Bula Bubble’ to kickstart economy

Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has called for a “Bula Bubble” to allow international visitors back into the country and kickstart its ailing tourism sector.

Australia and New Zealand are Fiji’s two biggest sources of international visitors. Under the plan, tourists would either have to self-quarantine at home for two weeks prior to arriving in Fiji and then be cleared by a negative COVID-19 test or serve their two-week quarantine at an approved hotel in Fiji.

“This Bula Bubble will allow Aussies and Kiwis to once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public,” Bainimarama said.

“To be clear, any tourists who come to Fiji on these terms still won’t be able to move freely around the country.”

While Australia and New Zealand have committed to a trans-Tasman bubble, no date has been set yet.

A spokesman for the Department of Health says the Government is not negotiating any travel bubble with any countries other than New Zealand at this stage.

“The Australian Government is closely monitoring developments in our region and beyond, recognising the economic benefits that a phased resumption of international travel could bring,” the spokesman said.

“In the meantime, … our primary concern continues to be the health and safety of Australians”.

Fiji has had just 18 cases of coronavirus and no deaths, but more than 100,000 people have lost their jobs during the tourism downturn.