Newly announced travel bubbles inspire confidence in the Pacific

Plans for an Australian travel bubble with New Zealand have reignited hopes that tourism dependent countries across the Pacific will also soon be able to open their international borders to tourists.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated economies around the world but Fiji has been hit particularly hard by international travel bans.

Figures from June showed more than 100,000 people were no longer employed due to the tourism standstill.

Jessie McComb, a senior tourism expert with the International Finance Corporation, said tourism operators in Fiji are already preparing to welcome tourists back.

“They’re really looking at what needs to happen for international travel to resume but, are saying it will take three months to re-establish supply chains and gets specialists back into resorts,” she told ABC's Pacific Beat.

Many Pacific island countries have reported low or even no cases of the virus – many coming from repatriation flights rather than community transmission.

Ms McComb says the tourism industry must play an integral role in minimising the spread of COVID-19 in the region.

“The tourism sector is a critical player – resorts, hotels, restaurants, tourism activities – these are the people who will be interacting with tourists on a daily basis.

“They need active participants, and not just in the implementation of the regulations and protocols of improved health and hygiene, but also in the planning of thtand determining how that will work and how that will flow,” she said.


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