With Fiji’s visitor economy poised to grow by an additional $4 billion (US$2 billion) over the next 4 years, adopting an open sky policy will only enhance Fiji’s tourism industry significantly.

That is the word of deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Viliame Gavoka in a ministerial statement he delivered in parliament Wednesday.

“While Fiji previously believed open skies were unsuitable for small economies, this hasn’t been tested. Our Coalition Government is now promoting and adopting open skies. With liberalisation, discussions are underway with the United States to finalise an open-skies agreement, allowing our national airline to operate to various U.S destinations, thereby boosting trade and tourism.”

Currently, Fiji’s international carrier Fiji Airways can only fly from Nadi to three U.S destinations, namely Hawaii, San Francisco and Los Angeles under its Air Services Agreement (ASA) with the U.S Government.

Efforts over the past years to amend the agreement have not been successful, said DPM Gavoka. With the change to open sky policy, he is hopeful the U.S will be much more receptive.

“Fiji achieved a significant milestone by welcoming a record 929,740 visitors, in 2023. This surge in tourism contributed over FJD$3.3 billion (US$1.65 million) in revenue, exceeding our financial goals a year ahead of schedule.

“Looking forward into 2024, we expect a steady growth in visitor arrivals, projected to increase by +2 percent to +5 percent, compared to the previous year. With improved airline capacity, we anticipate better accessibility to our islands and an 8 percent to 12 percent increase in flights.

“The thriving investment environment in Fiji, marked by the opening of new resorts and the launch of significant developments, signals a strong investment scene, promising a bright future for our tourism sector,” said Gavoka.