COVID-19: Fiji Airways crew and passengers advised to contact authorities

COVID-19: Fiji Airways crew and passengers advised to contact authorities

FIJI TIMES 20 March 2020 – WITH Fiji’s first confirmed COVID-19 case involving a flight attendant, passengers and crew members who boarded three Fiji Airways flights have been advised to contact health authorities.

Any passenger or crew who travelled on Fiji Airways flights FJ411 (Nadi-Auckland) on March 17 this year and FJ410 (Auckland-Nadi) and FJ871 (San Francisco) on March 16 are asked to contact the numbers listed below:

Central Division 2219905, Eastern Division 2219906, Western Division 2219907 and Northern Division 2219908.

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Number of safety measures announced after first case of COVID-19 was confirmed

Number of safety measures announced after first case of COVID-19 was confirmed

FIJIVILLAGE 19 March 2020 – From midnight tonight our border restrictions on Mainland China, Italy, Iran, Spain and South Korea will be extended to foreign nationals who have been present in the USA and all of Europe including the United Kingdom within 14 days of their intended travel.

Also from midnight tonight, anyone who enters our country from any overseas destination will be required to self quarantine for 14 days meaning they must stay in one place and avoid contact with others or going out in public.

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Tourism Talanoa: Tourism Bracing For The Worst

Tourism Talanoa: Tourism Bracing For The Worst

FHTA, 19 March 2020 – The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is surging and making its presence felt all over the world. There is almost an air of inevitability about it reaching Fiji’s pristine shores and it is only a matter of time before that happens. French Polynesia and Guam were the first regional countries to confirm cases and the rest of the Pacific is waiting with bated breath.

However, Fijians can rest assured knowing that Government and all relevant stakeholders, are working hard to see that the impact and spread is minimised and controlled and to enable business continuity. Diligent work being undertaken by border control, health practitioners and others is ensuring that preventative measures are in place and Fiji is prepared for COVID-19 when it gets here.

As of 17 March, the pandemic has seen more than 167,000 cases of infection with 6606 deaths. These are alarming figures. They will continue to steadily rise daily, and scientists are scrambling to devise a vaccine.

As fears grow about the virus’s impact, financial markets have taken a big hit. No one will know the true economic impact for some time, but the pinch can be felt now. Countless meetings and discussions have taken place by all industries to try and mitigate its negative socio-economic effects and these meetings will become the norm for the foreseeable future.

Experts around the world are calling for a coordinated interest rate cut which would most probably happen; but monetary policy itself cannot help increasing global investment and output. Tax breaks will assist SME’s but may take time even if they are designed to help mainly the low-income groups. For Fiji, some innovative fiscal policies through direct government expenditures targeted to specific sectors and groups will be necessary.

The tourism industry is by no means immune. These have been labeled “existential times for the global travel community” and rightly so. Heavily reliant on travelers, Fiji’s tourism sector with a significant 40,000 people in formal employment, is bracing itself for a sharp dip ahead. The decrease in the flow of Asian travelers as well as those from our key markets Australia and New Zealand, is already resulting in the loss of millions of dollars from cancelled group travel and for events such as weddings, events and conferences. Every day, the cancellations increase, and the booking enquiries grow less.

Skift’s CEO, Rafat Ali, says that “travel is the most consequential industry in the world, as the world is now finding out due to lack of travel.” As well as travel being the geopolitical centre of the world, a now grounded planet is feeling this in no uncertain terms.

Everywhere in the world, international airports around the world have become increasingly empty as flights have been canceled and more travel warnings have been issued, resulting in cancelled flights, holidays and meetings overseas and domestically.

The International Air Transport Association has predicted a $29.3 billion loss in overall passenger revenue this year.
At home, Fiji Airways has taken several steps to protect guests and staff. Additionally, screening processes and onboard procedures for crew and passengers have been upgraded.

Tourism businesses have been offering increased flexibility for customers wishing to change their bookings to defer travel without any change fees or hold credit for later travel.

This past Sunday, Government announced new restrictions and measures in the fight against COVID-19. This includes the barring of cruise ships to berth in Fiji waters and the cancellation of all international events in Fiji. Fijians are being advised to remain in the country and keep overseas travel to essential circumstances only.

In preparing for this evolving situation since mid February, Tourism Fiji, FHTA, SOFTA and other tourism operators have been working on being proactive and looking at measures to stay in business and offer incentivised packaging to promote Fiji and tourism products to visitors and locals. There have also been meetings with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health to stay in touch and ensure information to tourism stakeholders and potential visitors is aligned to the message that there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in the country, that Fiji was safe and that we maintained confidence in Fiji’s Health Services.

FHTA has also contributed to the recent Private Sector Stakeholders Meeting to discuss the effects of the Pandemic on tourism businesses and provided a submission for consideration to the Supplementary Budget that will be announced next Friday.

Tourism is not alone in looking forward to this budget that is expected to introduce fiscal policies to assist all cross-sections of Fiji to manage the economic downturn of business due to COVID-19. We hope that our national tourism office gets the additional funding support it will need to compete against the rest of the world in these difficult times. Fiji must work extremely hard to win the confidence of visitors overseas amid the overwhelming response by tourism destinations around the world to also do the same.

No one knows how long this crisis last, or how quickly the global economy will rebound. History tells us it is often the most vulnerable economies that get hit the hardest. In looking ahead while keeping our business plans flexible, we must also remain pragmatic. This starts with keeping COVID-19 at bay by consistent washing of hands and staying alert to what we can each do to avoid the spread of this virus.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA

Published in the Fiji Times on 19 March 2020 

Fijian economy now expected to go down in 2020 – RBF

Fijian economy now expected to go down in 2020 – RBF

FIJIVILLAGE 18 March 2020 – The Reserve Bank of Fiji says the Fijian economy is now expected to go down in 2020 against a 1.7 percent growth earlier projected, and the full effect of how the economy gets affected from COVID-19 cannot be predicted as the situation remains fluid.

RBF has also made it clear that based on it’s baseline scenario, the magnitude of the contraction in the Fijian economy will depend on how long the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

RBF Governor, Ariff Ali says partial indicators for consumption and investment in Fiji point to sustained softness in aggregate demand, which means consumption and investments are expected at reduced levels.

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COVID-19: Fiji widens existing travel restrictions to include Spain

COVID-19: Fiji widens existing travel restrictions to include Spain

FIJI TIMES 19 March 2020 – The Fijian Government has widened its existing travel restrictions to cover all foreign nationals who have been present in Spain within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

From March 18, 2020, Fiji’s borders will be closed to all foreign nationals who have been present in mainland China, South Korea, Italy, Iran or Spain within 14 days of their intended travel to Fiji.

In addition, all international air passengers will continue to be checked with handheld temperature scanners prior to entering the country, and their travel history and health status will be screened by border agents.

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Why NZ’s tough coronavirus travel rules are crucial to protecting lives at home and across the Pacific

Why NZ’s tough coronavirus travel rules are crucial to protecting lives at home and across the Pacific

THE CONVERSATION ONLINE 17 March 2020 – New Zealand’s border restrictions will come with significant job and business losses in the tourism sector, both at home and in the Pacific. But the new travel rules are absolutely necessary to protect the health of New Zealanders and people right across Pacific Islands, because New Zealand is a gateway country for many travellers entering the region.

Health systems in Pacific Island countries are under-resourced and people often live communally, putting them at greater risk of transmission. New Zealanders have good reason to be particularly aware of this because of the Samoan measles outbreak in late 2019, which claimed 83 lives. It is likely that the disease came into Samoa from someone travelling from Auckland.

Speaking at the University of the South Pacific in Suva last month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised New Zealand would assist with issues such as climate change and infectious diseases because they are “border-less challenges and they demand a collective response”.

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Service provider records decline in sales at airport outlets

Service provider records decline in sales at airport outlets

FIJI TIMES 17 March 2020 – ONE of the country’s largest mobile telecommunications service providers has recorded a drop in its roaming services revenue as a result of the drop in the number of tourists to Fiji.

Vodafone Fiji regional chief executive officer Pradeep Lal yesterday said although they had not noticed any significant drop in their inward remittances through the M-PAiSA platform, they had noticed drop in sales at their airport shops.

Mr Lal said drop in tourism arrivals meant less visitors were buying mobile phones and other accessories which had led to the decrease in revenue.

“It’s early to give numbers but I can say that until very recently the numbers were quite OK but in the past one week or so the numbers have dropped quite significantly,” he said.

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Drop in visitor arrivals affect 100,000 families

Drop in visitor arrivals affect 100,000 families

FIJI TIMES 18 March 2020 – AS many as 100,000 Fijian families will be impacted directly or indirectly by the drop in visitor arrivals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This, according to Rosie Travel Group managing director Tony Whitton.

He said Fiji was a small island nation that relied heavily on tourism.

“It’s really essential that we work together as a tourism industry and work very closely with Government so we will be able to develop strategies to make sure we cushion or defray some of the direct costs to everyday hardworking Fijians that make up the travel industry.

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Nine Sacrifice Employment For Colleagues

Nine Sacrifice Employment For Colleagues
FIJI SUN 17 March 2020 – Nine Pacific Destinations employees have sacrificed their employment so that their other colleagues may continue to get paid.
This is in light of the crash in tourism numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and corresponding travel restrictions, around the world.
They want their other colleagues in the company, who are from other districts and have to pay rent, mortgages and hire purchase to continue receiving their pay, even if on reduced hours.

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Tourism numbers drop by 40%

Tourism numbers drop by 40%

FBC NEWS 17 March 2020 – A 40% drop in hotel bookings has been recorded for the next 3 months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association Chief Executive Fantasha Lockington confirms the decline in bookings is increasing daily with fewer enquiries coming through for the next quarter.

Lockington says the situation is unprecedented, difficult to predict and calls for greater flexibility in all sectors for planning purposes.

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Media Release 14: COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

Media Release 14: COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

THE FOLLOWING IS STATEMENT FROM THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND MEDICAL SERVICES RELEASED ON MONDAY 16 MARCH AT 1456HRS

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services advises that there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.

Regarding reports of a Rwandan national being confirmed as a case of COVID-19 in Rwanda after arriving in that country on March the 8th from Fiji via the USA and Qatar: we have confirmed with the World Health Organisation that this person is the close contact of another confirmed case in Rwanda and he contracted COVID-19 from this other case after he had arrived in Rwanda. He did not get COVID-19 in Fiji, and there is no threat to Fiji from this case.

What can you do?

The Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services wishes to strongly urge the public to not share rumours and misinformation.  Just as we did during the measles outbreak the Ministry will inform the public as soon as possible once we have a confirmed case. Use credible sources for information on COVID-19:

  • Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services website CLICK HERE
  • Fiji Ministry of Health and Medical Services Facebook page, CLICK HERE
  • WHO website CLICK HERE

How can you prevent yourself from getting COVID-19 and other diseases?

  • Frequently clean hands soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your mouth, nose and eyes
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough – stay at least 1 metre away
  • Avoid unnecessary international travel
  • Avoid contact while greeting others

If you have been to a COVID-19 affected country in the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing immediately contact one of the numbers listed below. If you need to see a doctor please call ahead, using the following phone numbers, before visiting to reduce the risk of infecting other patients.

  • Central 2219905
  • Eastern 2219906
  • Western 2219907
  • Northern 2219908

Fiji Airways: Please Expect Extended Call Wait and Hold Times

Fiji Airways: Please Expect Extended Call Wait and Hold Times
The Following is a Statement from Fiji Airways
Due to the unprecedented nature and scale of the current situation around COVID-19 and state restrictions, we are experiencing extremely high call volumes at our Reservations Centre, and through our online Customer Care portal and social media channels. Please expect extended wait and hold times. We are actively contacting guests booked to travel in the next 72 hours with changes to their itineraries. If you are travelling after March 31, you will receive a flight change notification for any change to your itinerary in due course.
If you have a non-urgent matter or query, we may not be able to respond to you immediately, and request for your patience and understanding at this time. Information on new bookings, baggage allowance and pre-paid excess baggage is easily available on our website.
Re-bookings
We realise that many guests may wish to defer travel at this time. We are offering flexibility for guests wishing to change their flights to defer travel without any change fees or hold credit for later travel (a fare difference may apply, especially if partner airlines are involved in the booking).
  • If guests wish to change their travel dates, they can do so without incurring any fees (reissue fees and fare difference included) should they travel by 30 June 2020.
  • There will be no reissue fees (fare difference fee will apply) should guests wish to travel after 30 June, 2020.
  • If your flights were booked through a travel agency or third-party website (for example Trip.com, Webjet or others), you will need to contact these companies directly to make changes to your booking. Fiji Airways is unable to make changes to bookings done by third-party websites. The same conditions listed above will apply.
  • If you are unsure as to when you would like to travel, you can have your fare held in credit. Upon rebooking, any change fees will be waived.
We assure guests that they will not lose the fare paid to directly to Fiji Airways.
Schedule Changes
Fiji Airways will continue to monitor demand and entry restrictions by states across its international network, and may reduce/cancel or change flight schedules if required.
Important notice for guests impacted by cancellations and re-bookings: All guests booked directly with Fiji Airways with a valid email address will receive a schedule change notification. Guests booked through travel agents and third parties will be contacted by their respective agencies.
For more details please visit our Travel Alerts page.

COVID-19: Tourism Fiji to introduce relaxed fees to attract visitors

COVID-19: Tourism Fiji to introduce relaxed fees to attract visitors

FIJI TIMES 16 March 2020 – Consumer confidence in travelling to Fiji is really low as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Confirming the impact that the disease has caused on the travelling public, Tourism Fiji revealed that more relaxed travelling fees would be introduced to attract visitors to Fiji.

“The situation changes on a daily basis and we continue to navigate a path through this global disruption the best we can,” a Tourism Fiji update sta…

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COVID-19: Fiji bans cruise ships from Monday 16 March

COVID-19: Fiji bans cruise ships from Monday 16 March

No cruise ships will be allowed entry into Fiji from tomorrow – Monday, March 16, 2020.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made the announcement in a statement issued this evening, a day and hours after neighbouring countries Australia and New Zealand announced the ban on cruise liners from also entering their ports to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Also from tomorrow (Monday), international events will not be allowed in Fiji and local events will be closed to all guests coming in from overseas,” Mr Bainimarama said.

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All travellers to New Zealand to self-isolate

All travellers to New Zealand to self-isolate

ABC NEWS 15 March 2020 – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced new restrictions requiring travellers to be quarantined for 14 days upon entry into the country in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The restrictions apply to all countries except for Pacific nations, and will come into effect at midnight on Sunday (10.00pm AEDT). It also includes any New Zealand citizens or residents returning to the country.

New Zealand has six confirmed cases and no recorded deaths.

Ms Ardern said these were “far-reaching and unprecedented” measures to tackle a global pandemic.

“Alongside Israel and a small number of Pacific islands who have effectively closed their borders, this decision will mean New Zealand will have the widest ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world,” Ms Ardern said.

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The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa celebrates World Sleep Day

The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa celebrates World Sleep Day

Denarau Island 13 March 2020 – The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa celebrated World Sleep Day today as part of a global annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving.

“For you to be at your best, 8 hours of sleep is essential to your well-being. We want guests to make the most of your travel experiences, especially with our wellness brand, Westin, by getting a full night’s rest so they can take on the day ahead and enjoy our beautiful paradise” commented Yvo Van Dijk, acting Hotel Manager – Westin Resort, Fiji. “This World Sleep Day, Westin is encouraging guests to get their full 8 hours in the Heavenly® Bed so they can rise to the challenge of taking 8 hours to experience something new wherever they travel.”

The lower deck at the Westin lobby had a setup of Heavenly® Bed to reflect one of the brands main pillars, Sleep Well. The Westin Heavenly Bed is uniquely designed with a plush, pillow-top construction for premium comfort and support. Guests slip into the Westin Heavenly Bed and experience a night of restorative sleep that is simply divine.

Known as the premier brand truly committed to helping guests get a good night’s sleep, all Westin hotels offer complimentary Sleep Well Lavender Balm bedside amenity, infused with the calming essential oils of lavender and chamomile – the latest in a series of sleep offerings that promise a better slumber for travelers.

About World Sleep Society:

World Sleep Day (WorldSleepSociety.org) is organized by World Sleep Society, an international association whose mission is to advance sleep health worldwide. World Sleep Society promotes and encourages education, research and patient care, particularly in those parts of the world where the practice of sleep medicine is less developed. World Sleep Society currently represents over 900 individual healthcare providers and 31 regional sleep societies, totaling over 14,000 members. Learn more at WorldSleepSociety.org and WorldSleepDay.org. Find us on Twitter @WorldSleep and Facebook.com/WASMF.

FCCC warns traders not to increase prices during COVID-19 outbreak

FCCC warns traders not to increase prices during COVID-19 outbreak

The Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission has heard that certain businesses locally are starting to overcharge the public on goods and services and is taking advantage of the public’s fears during the COVID-19 global outbreak.

FCCC Chief Executive Officer Joel Abraham says they want to let traders and businesses know that they will not tolerate any attempts at price gouging.

Abraham says they have seen that overseas businesses have increased the price of items like face masks and hand sanitisers by large amounts after the announcement of the COVID-19 global outbreak.

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Radisson Blu Resort celebrates International Women’s Day

Radisson Blu Resort celebrates International Women’s Day

RASISSON BLU RESORT 13 March 2020 – Recognizing and commemorating women of the resort, Radisson Blu Resort Fiji, Denarau Island celebrated international Women’s Day by hosting a tea party on Sunday 08th March 2020.

With the key message of the day being ““I am generation equality: Realizing women’s rights”. The focus was women’s achievements at the work place and more importantly their significance at home and in the society.

Women from each department shared their experiences in the work force and journey at home. The ladies continued the day by paying tribute and acknowledging ancestors that contributed to paving the way for their success.

“This is a very special day for the Resort. It has certainly been my dream to be part of a women friendly work environment”, said recently appointed Director of Sales and Marketing Ema Rayasi Leawere. “I am happy to be part of a managing team that strives to make work a safe space to learn, grown and thrive”.

“We want to empower women in leadership at the resort and achieve a better leadership balance throughout the company. We are happy to welcome our third female director to the managing team”, said General Manager, Charles Homsy.

With 179 women employed, Radisson Blu Resort Fiji, Denarau Island strives to continuously spread the message and act on the theme of generation equality and women’s rights. The event hosted at the resort’s ballroom ended with a series of fun filled activities and competition including the limbo dance.

Stay at the Radisson Blu Resort Fiji on the Blu Escape Local Special for 2 adults and 1 child for FJD275 per night or FJD490 for 2 nights in a Garden View Room. Upgrade to One Bedroom Suite for FJD50 per night only. Stay includes Breakfast for 2 adults and 1 child under 12years.

Nanuku Auberge Resort named the best in Australia and the South Pacific by Condé Nast Traveler

Nanuku Auberge Resort named the best in Australia and the South Pacific by Condé Nast Traveler

DAILY MAIL ONLINE 12 March 2020 – ‘I wish I had some friends here to invite over,’ I told the buggy driver, as I was dropped off outside my cavernous villa.

I’d landed at Nanuku in Fiji – an Auberge Resorts Collection property voted the best resort in Australia and the South Pacific in Condé Nast Traveler’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards. And in a bid to show me ‘how the other half live’ (and the fact it was very quiet at the hotel following a cyclone) I’d been upgraded to a one-bedroom beachfront pool residence.

The luxury two-storey lodge, designed in typical South Pacific-style with a thatched palm roof and dark wood beams, costs an eye-watering FJD$4,250 (£1,488) per night, so I was keen to investigate what the perks of this price tag would be.

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French Polynesia records first Pacific coronavirus case

French Polynesia records first Pacific coronavirus case

FIJI TIMES 12 March 2020 – French Polynesia has recorded its first Covid-19 coronavirus case.

President Edouard Fritch said the carrier was one of French Polynesia’s members of the French National Assembly, Maina Sage, who returned from Paris at the weekend.

She was at home in self-isolation, Mr Fritch said.

Reports say Ms Sage had met the French culture minister Franck Riester, who has also been infected.

Mr Fritch said before returning to Tahiti she had a medical check-up that showed no sign of the illness.

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