Fiji welcomes first Australian tourists in 20 months amid Omicron concerns

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Fiji has thrown open its doors today to tourists for the first time in 20 months, despite fears over the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The first Australian tourists touch down in the Pacific Island nation this morning from Sydney and daily flights from Melbourne will also begin today.

All tourists must be fully vaccinated and show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours when they check in for their flight to Fiji at the airport.

In light of the Omicron variant, Fiji has moved to add greater restrictions for its nationals returning from red-listed countries, which include several southern African nations.

Australian tourists will not need to isolate but are required to stay at an approved COVID-safe hotel for three nights. There they will be able to visit bars and restaurants inside certain zones while they undergo rapid testing.

Australians returning home from a holiday to Fiji will face some uncertainty, however, depending on how the Omicron variant affects restrictions locally.

Under current rules introduced in Australia last week, travellers returning from non-African countries to New South Wales and Victoria will need to self-isolate at home for 72 hours.

Currently 90 percent of the adult population in Fiji is fully vaccinated and it is hoped the return of tourists will help revive the country’s economy.

The Pacific Island nation relies on tourism for more than $2 billion (US$1.4 billion) a year in revenue.

“Today is a very special day as we welcome back our Aussie friends after 20 long months,” Fiji Airways Managing Director & CEO Andre Viljoen said.

“We have been working hard since March last year to prepare for this moment and ensure our guests have the safest and most enjoyable travel experience possible.

“The safety of our customers and staff will always be our highest priority. Our entire workforce is fully vaccinated, our new Travel Ready programme is dedicated to medical safety and wellness,” he said

SOURCE: 9 NEWS/PACNEWS