Tourism Talanoa: The New Normal

Tourism Talanoa: The New Normal

FHTA, 23 April 2020 – A pandemic is raging around the globe. Borders have been closed. Planes have
been grounded. People around the world have been asked to stop moving around and stay indoors.

No matter where or who you are, the questions and frustrations are the same. “When will all this end? When will we get back to normal? When will the borders open up? How do we survive the waiting period?”

The answers are no clearer today than they were yesterday or last week. The fact is, nobody knows when this global health crisis will end. But each week we are seeing the effects of a world brought to a standstill and tourism brought to its knees with 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry affected and its 10% contribution to global GDP severely eroded.

This week Virgin Australia, with its 20-year history of operating in Australia announced it had gone into voluntary administration. While no redundancies are planned for now, 15,000 airline employees as well as the airlines supply chain workers must obviously be anxious about their futures.

Back home in Fiji, over 90% of the 40,000 workers directly employed in tourism are already involved in finding alternative solutions to supporting themselves and their families. These include subsistence farming, selling food, fishing, carpentry or returning to their villages and communities to wait out this pandemic.

We are hearing firsthand the frustrations and anxiety of these workers that the funds they have been able to access along with their leave pay is quickly running out. That they’re having to review their accommodation options as they can no longer afford their rents, pay off their car loans or support their extended family members.

We are seeing the result of the impact on the supply chain workers that includes transportation with more and more taxis and buses (and planes) parked. It is no surprise then that the world’s biggest suppliers of crude oil are seeing a huge increase in supplies as worldwide demand drops to an all-time low. So too with farmers and fresh produce suppliers of fruit, vegetable, seafood and meat having excess produce now available that used to be used by tourism. The current spike in vegetable prices is not therefore sustainable in the long term and will be forced to go down based on lower demand and higher supplies.

And while we are also hearing from all businesses affected by the downturn in tourism looking for advice and support to understand all the new and constantly changing requirements for lockdowns, curfews, border controls, hygiene protocols and general movement restrictions, we are also hearing the quiet frustrations and deep anxieties of small business owners not being able to see their way out of this situation if tourism remains in this “holding pattern” indefinitely.

The longer we stay closed, the safer we will be in terms of flattening the curve and keeping this pandemic from affecting more people and overwhelming our health systems.

But the longer this takes, the more impact it is having on SME’s being able to survive the time it may take to be declared safe enough for things to start moving again. This may be as early as later this year or even as far away as next year. One thing that most industry experts around the world are certain of though, is that even when the borders do open up, people are not going to immediately travel in droves as they used to.

The “new normal” will require us to rethink the way we do business in the near future. For example, many countries are thinking about how far domestic tourism can sustain them, even if as a short term measure. In countries as large as Australia with a population of approximately 25 million there are certainly far more opportunities, locations and activity choices with enviable infrastructure supporting sophisticated transportation systems.

For Fiji, there are definitely benefits to be explored and certainly some limitations we would have to work through to make domestic tourism as effective. Targeting those segments of the workforce that have not been laid off, taken a pay cut and can afford to travel in-country might be a limited number though. People in Fiji will generally travel to visit friends and relatives and maybe even splurge for special occasions, but not to just ”sara sara vanua”. We are going to have to worker harder to make this work.

While we’re working harder on new ways to do business in this “new normal”, we might also have to rethink our key markets and how we work with them and who they are. Whether our low and high seasons will stay the same and consider whether our flight frequencies to some destinations might need to be changed to suit the economic situation in those countries.

To build visitor confidence, we are also going to have to review how we market the safety of travelling to Fiji in terms of our hygiene and cleaning processes. From border controls, to aircraft interiors, food preparation, accommodation and activities. Sanitation in transportation, restaurants, bars, swimming pools, gyms, sporting arenas, schools and meeting rooms will have to be able to inspire confidence in future and potential travelers that support what has been one of Fiji’s key tourism drawcards – safety.

The “new normal” might also start with being invited into the “Tasman Bubble” that is at this point in time, an initial discussion between the Australian and New Zealand Governments to open the borders between them with specific travel requirements agreed to. Fiji and other Pacific Islands have been less drastically impacted by the virus thus far with early interventions put into place. What might these travel requirements include that Fiji could comply with that would allow us an earlier window of opportunity, that no matter how small, is still an opportunity worth pursuing.

These are the weirdest of times for us. If we raise our concerns and worry about how bad things have the potential to be, we appear negative and alarmist. If we don’t say anything as we spiral slowly downwards, we appear to be out of touch and uncaring. It is difficult to stay neutral in this industry where so many lives and economies in Fiji and the Pacific are dependent on the tourism industry doing well. So, while raising concern and looking for opportunities, we are also trying to ensure we convince policy makers that we have to be ready to change direction as soon as the winds change.

And the winds are not only changing, they’re getting harder to predict and we don’t have the tools we usually rely on to tell us how it is all going to turn out. Common sense, empathy and reaching out to one another with compassion might have to be the new tools we have to work with to figure this new world out.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA

Published in the Fiji Times on 23 April 2020 

Paradise Beverages starts production of free hand-sanitisers

Paradise Beverages

FIJIVILLAGE 16 April 2020 – Fiji’s leading alcohol beverages manufacturer, Paradise Beverages has worked with some businesses and commenced producing more than 25,000 litres of  for distribution for free to the people of Fiji.

The 25,000 litre batch of hand sanitiser will be delivered by Coca-Cola Amatil Fiji to hospitals, medical centres, and villages in 1000 litre and 20-litre vessels.

The company’s distillery in Lautoka, which is mostly known for its spirits with brands including Bounty Rum, Regal Gin and Whiskey, will shift its production to alcohol-based hand sanitisers to help address the supply issues currently faced by most Fijians.

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Consumer Council of Fiji urging Fijians to be careful of COVID-19 charity scam

Consumer Council of Fiji urging Fijians to be careful of COVID-19 charity scam

FIJIVILLAGE 16 April 2020 – The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging Fijians to be careful of COVID-19 charity scam.

This is after the Council received a complaint from a consumer where a trader had posted on social media that a certain amount from the total purchase will be given to donor agent to provide relief to those affected by impact of COVID–19.

However, the Council says investigations revealed that there were no such arrangements between the donor agent and the trader involved.

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What you need to know – FRCS

What you need to know – FRCS

FRCS 16 April 2020 – WHEN importing goods for personal use, people are advised to ensure that the product they import is not prohibited and that there are certain goods that require permit to import and have to meet certain criteria before being allowed into Fiji.

This week we will discuss items that are prohibited or restricted and the criteria/requirements to have these
goods cleared.

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Marine notice – MSAF

artime Safety Authority of Fiji

FIJI TIMES 16 April 2020 – ALL of Fiji’s ports have resume clearance and are now open according to the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji.

Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji’s manager qualification and licensing and officer-in-charge, Captain Tomasi Kete confirmed the authority’s marine notice (no:13) had cleared all ports including Southern Lau which wasn’t cleared last week.

The authority had notified all ship masters, ship owners and ship agents for foreign and local ships, pilots, port management companies, operators, marinas and yacht clubs about the clearance.

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Maximum of three passengers on fishing boat during curfew

Maximum of three passengers on fishing boat during curfew

FIJI TIMES 16 April 2020 – THE Ministry of Fisheries has urged the public specifically fishermen to contact their nearest Fisheries Service Centre should they need clarification and advise on fishing during curfew hours.

The Ministry highlighted that fishermen were to fish only in iqoliqoli areas or fishing grounds that are clearly specified on their licenses.

“The Ministry of Fisheries wishes to reiterate the need for co-operation during these challenging times and for fishermen to please respect the various commodity bans that are still in place,” the ministry said.

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COVID-19: One-third of hotel properties still open for business – Tourism Fiji

COVID-19: One-third of hotel properties still open for business – Tourism Fiji

FIJI TIMES 16 April 2020 – About one-third of Fiji’s tourism properties are still open for business, says Tourism Fiji.

Of the 160 resorts and hotels in operation, 49 remain open despite the COVID-19 crisis.

These include one on the Coral Coast, four in Lautoka, two in the Mamanuca Group, eight in the Northern Division, 20 in Nadi, three in Rakiraki, four in Pacific Harbour, six in Suva and one in Kadavu.

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Tourism Talanoa: Cyclones & King Tides

Tourism Talanoa: Cyclones & King Tides

FHTA, 16 April 2020 – Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold has come and gone. This cyclone ripped through our outer islands and caused significant damages to structures and food supplies.

But one lesser known impact of cyclones lies beneath the ocean waves.

Severe weather patterns can cause extensive damage to individual corals and to the structure of the reef. These impacts are known to last a long time.

The powerful waves generated during these cyclones can cause serious damage to our habitats and landforms, especially our coral reefs and shorelines. The strong winds of a cyclone can also cause significant changes to ocean currents and increase inshore ocean turbidity through suspension of sediments.

These cyclones also have long-lasting effects on our reef fish stocks. Coral provides important fish habitat and protection for reef fish such as coral trout so when a cyclone affects reefs, it affects the ability of these fish to protect themselves and these causes a dwindling in numbers.

Along with severe weather, our coral reefs face a massive threat by way of bleaching.

We have an amazing 10,000 square kilometres of coral reefs flourishing in our waters. About 42 percent of the world’s coral species can be found right here in Fijian waters.

These reefs provide a buffer, protecting the coasts from waves and storms. They are formed from important reef builders, corals, who secrete calcium carbonate to form coral reefs.

The corals form barriers to protect the shoreline. Corals live in a mutualistic relationship with symbiotic algae, which use sunlight to produce food for corals and get shelter in return. When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae
(zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching.

Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality. This not only has negative impacts on coral communities, but they also impact fish communities and the human communities that depend on coral reefs and associated fisheries for livelihoods and well-being.

The bleached corals are likely to have reduced growth rates, decreased reproductive capacity, increased susceptibility to diseases and elevated mortality rates.

Tropical Cyclone Harold struck Fiji on the day of an especially high spring tide, known as a king tide. These tides occur a few times every year, when the gravitational pull of the sun and moon upon the earth is strongest. This results in higher-than-usual water levels during high tides.

Island resorts around the Sun Coast, Coral Coast and in the Mamanuca Islands experienced more damages from storm surges from higher than usual water levels brought about by the king tide, than TC Harold. This brought seawater onto their properties, washed away roads, damages sea walls and jetties and caused water-damage in areas that wouldn’t normally be submerged under water.

General Manager of Fiji’s first landowner-owned four-star resort Nakelo Treasure Island’s Jim Saukuru shared details of the damage caused by the unusually high sea level on his property.

“Our seawall has been washed away and the water levels have damaged our helipad and all our trees near the beach area.”

He says that even their desalination plant, which pumped seawater from the lagoon for processing, suffered irreparable damage as the seawater submerged the essentials motors and it’s housing.

Jim estimates that his resort suffered more than $3M in damages from both the cyclone and the king tide. This comes in the middle of a $2.3M refurbishment works being conducted on the island and exacerbates the pain of having no incoming revenue from visitors to Fiji since the beginning of April and throughout the next 3 months.

Other island resorts also reported their beaches being washed away as well as their seawalls inundated with seawater and jetties shifting due to the tide. Damage to many of the outer island jetties that are critical to our maritime communities has been noted by the Fiji Roads Authority to run into the millions.

The inundating effects from the biannual king tides is usually stopped by the construction of concrete sea walls in strategic parts of an island. And for the most part these would be sufficient to hold back storm surges.

Changes in coral communities also affect the species that depend on them, such as the fish and invertebrates that rely on live coral for food, shelter, or recruitment habitat.

Change in the abundance and composition of reef fish assemblages may occur when corals die as a result of coral bleaching.

As mentioned, something as simple as the sea water heating up past its normal temperature has ripple effects that cascade outward. Add cyclones and storm surges and coral damage is increased exponentially.

Fishermen from island villages whose families rely on them to provide sustenance rely heavily on fish stock levels staying constant. Reduced fish stocks affect the communities that rely on this food and livelihood source.

Imagine the divemaster who is awaiting the end of coronavirus to get his much loved job back of taking PADI-certified tourists scuba diving. There would be no diving and no tourists if Fiji’s coral reefs started losing their world renown colours and viridity. It would add another layer to the disturbing reality happening under the ocean’s surface.

As the world’s borders remain closed for an indefinite period and everyone stays home, perhaps we too will start to see a period of healing and repairing taking place below our now calm waters.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA

Published in the Fiji Times on 16 April 2020 

Tourism Talanoa: A Pandemic & A Cyclone

Tourism Talanoa: A Pandemic & A Cyclone

FHTA, 9 April 2020 – In last week’s Tourism Talanoa, we shared the heartache that the workers of Fiji’s
tourism industry were enduring. This week, we look at how some tourism properties are coping.

Like the rest of Fiji, they are hoping and praying for this medical crisis that has forced a world-wide economic downturn to be over sooner rather than later, or risk running out of what little they already have.

With the complete shutdown of global travel, the entire tourism industry is counting down to a time when everything returns to normalcy. That may be anything from six months to eight months or stretch from twelve to eighteen months. While there is much speculation, no-one really knows.

What is known is that unprecedented societal changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are dramatically affecting tourism. It is too early to know the full nature and impact of these changes, but it is clear that they will be transformative for the entire planet, and every destination will need to re-create its tourism from the ground up.
Shadna Naicker, General Manager of Gecko’s Resort along the Coral Coast, is giving her best estimate for six to seven months.

At full manning capacity, the Gecko’s Resort had 30 full-time staff taking care of their guests. That number is currently at 3 staff, and while their occupancy is at zero percent right now, they still have their hands full with securing their property for the anticipated onslaught of Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold.

Their staff were put on reduced hours before going on leave without pay. While every effort is being explored to helping staff members access Government’s COVID-19 Assistance through FNPF, Shadna knows this is still not enough.

“This FNPF Assistance will not last long” she says, understanding her staff needs well.

Many of them are from the surrounding villages and communities along the winding Coral Coast and she fervently hopes they will be able to return to regular work soon.

She also hopes that Government will assist workers when the FNPF funds are no longer available.

In the Mamanuca Islands, a long-time favourite playground for tourism activities and where things are at a complete standstill currently, Jim Saukuru has had more pressing issues piled onto his already full set of complexities.

The General Manager of Nakelo Treasure Island Resort & Spa was watching the approach of TC Harold, like the rest of the country.

He believes they feel the effects of the cyclones most noting that Tropical Cyclone Sarai (late December 2019) and Tino (mid-January 2020) cost them 2.3 million dollars (Fijian) in damage.

Their staffing numbers at full manning was 143 full-timers which has now been reduced to 16 remaining staff for security, maintenance and basic operational requirements.

The rest of their staff have returned home since their last guest left on March 14th but 31 staff had to remain on the island due to the lockdown that Lautoka has only just recently lifted last Tuesday. They have since been transferred back to the mainland to their homes and families after being looked after by the resort for 21 days.

The resort has stowed their barge, speedboats and glass-bottom boat at the Vuda Marina to wait out the storm. All their room bookings were suspended until June 1st in anticipation of the end of COVID-19 in the country but TC Harold has forced Jim to be more realistic with his estimate.

He says it may result in a complete resort shutdown for six months to bring the resort back to its former glory, depending on the damage it may or may not sustain in the cyclone’s wake, notwithstanding the effects on international travel by COVID-19.

“Our workers are on indefinite leave without pay, while Management is on 50% pay cut,” he says.

While he is grateful for the 6-month repayment holidays given for loans and to financiers for hoteliers, Jim is seeking more assistance from Government by accessing some of the recently advised 60-million-dollar allocation from the COVID-19 Supplementary Budget so that his resort does not have to close down for longer than necessary.

He is hoping that Government speeds up the approval process for their request for funding through the Fiji Development Bank so that Treasure Island can continue to operate and face a COVID-19-free world at the tail end of this current health crisis.

“Our Marketing Team needs funds to start marketing Treasure Island and Fiji to the world so that when COVID-19 goes away, bookings will be made faster by travelers.”

He insists marketing needs to take place now and not later.

Tourism will definitely need far more impetus. It is crucial for many countries in the Pacific. For Fiji, tourism is the nation’s economic lifeblood. Our neighbours Australia have been discussing the provision of longer-term economic support to the region through the Vuvale Partnership. New Zealand has reached out with similar offerings.

There are some obvious options available for consideration that would strengthen this partnership as trade partners that include humanitarian and direct aid.

The Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers met recently in Suva to discuss a coordinated response and assistance for the region, with Dame Meg Taylor Secretary General to the Forum calling for “strong solidarity to overcome a direct and immediate threat to the lives of our people”.

Just as we have been constantly reminded that “we are in this together”, so should our response to the crisis both medical and climatic be. Consultative, inclusive and cooperative. As Dame Taylor notes, “the time is now”

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA

Published in the Fiji Times on 9 April 2020 

Fiji Airways Schedules Weekly Freighter Services

Fiji Airways Schedules Weekly Freighter Services

Fiji Airways has scheduled weekly further freighter services to/from Los Angeles, Sydney and Auckland. The freighter services will operate to Auckland on Fridays, to Los Angeles on either Friday or Saturday, and to Sydney on Mondays.

Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO said: “We recognise that maintaining the supply chain to move goods is vital for the economy right now. Our weekly freight charters will help producers, exporters and businesses alike to plan their supply logistics to and from Fiji with confidence. These freighter services will be operated predominantly by our A350-900 XWB aircraft.”

Businesses and producers are requested to contact their Freight Forwarders or Fiji Airways’s Freight Team for bookings. Freight schedules are subject to change depending on demand or other operational requirements.

SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE HAROLD TO MOVE SOUTHEASTWARDS AND PASS “JUST” TO THE WEST OF FIJI BY MID-WEEK

SEVERE TROPICAL CYCLONE HAROLD TO MOVE SOUTHEASTWARDS AND PASS “JUST” TO THE WEST OF FIJI BY MID-WEEK

THE FOLLOWING IS A WEATHER ADVISORY FROM FIJI METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE

At around 10am this morning, Severe Tropical Cyclone(TC) Harold made landfall on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu. Observations and reports received from Vanuatu indicate damages to infrastructure, heavy rain and flooding of low lying areas.

At midday today, Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold was analysed at 15.6 south latitude and 166.9 east longitude or about 280km Northwest of Port Vila or about 1,150km West of Nadi. It is a Category 5 system with sustained winds of approximately 215km/hr close to its centre and momentary gusts extending to 295km/hr. It is moving east-south-eastward at about 13km/hr.

TC Harold is expected to move to the east of Vanuatu tomorrow morning, thereafter it is expected to continue moving in a southeast direction. At midday on Tuesday (07/04), TC Harold is expected to be located approximately 725km West of Yasawa-I-Rara or about 715km West of Nadi. At midday on Wednesday (08/04), it is expected to be located approximately 310km south-southwest of Yasawa-I-Rara or about 200km south-southwest of Nadi. As it continues to move in that direction, it is expected to pass just towards the southwest of Fiji.

Even though the centre is expected pass to the southwest of Fiji, active rainbands bringing occasional rain and possibly gale force winds could be experienced along the Yasawa and Mamanuca group, Western half of Viti Levu and Kadavu. This is expected to begin from tomorrow. Gale Force winds may cause loose objects to fly, break twigs and tree branches and slight damages to weak-structured houses. The concern also extends to coastal inundation including sea flooding of coastal areas. The areas unto which the effects will be experienced could be to other parts of Fiji as TC Harold moves closer.

It is therefore advisable that we prepare accordingly. Take the necessary steps to ensure that homes and properties are well secured. Ensure that your compounds are cleared of all debris that could harm individuals and damage properties in the event of strong winds. For those who live along low-lying flood prone areas, please be aware of your escape routes in the event of rising flood waters.

For more details and the latest on weather, please contact the National Weather Forecasting Centre on 6736006, 9905376 or visit the Fiji Meteorological Service’s website, www.met.gov.fj.

You can also visit the Fiji Meteorological Service official Facebook page for latest updates.

Tourism Talanoa: Tourism Staff Struggles are Real

Tourism Talanoa: Tourism Staff Struggles are Real

FHTA, 30 March 2020 – “The hardest part about all this is not being able to buy sugar, flour, rice, you know…the basics.”

Those were the sentiments of former tourism industry employee, Bio Mataitini. He has spent the better part of the past decade as a dive instructor for Reef Safari Fiji.

He has now been sent home, along with numerous others, due to the impact of the current health crisis that has gripped the world.

His passion for showing off Fiji’s unique sea life to visitors is evident when conversing with him but he feels there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

Now farming near Mulomulo, Nadi is his current only focus, as he attempts to scrape by with what little funds, he has to help support his household, which include his parents and other family members.

His four brothers are also from the tourism industry and they too have been hard hit by the industry cutbacks. Together they are working on an ambitious plan to plant subsistent crops that will be divided between business and private consumption. This is their only source of income that he says he can contribute to right now.

Assistance from the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) for tourism industry workers has been made available and Bio has already lodged his application in anticipation. Because he has sufficient funds, he will be able to withdraw his full amount without requiring any topping up from Government.

He does worry that while he is able to use his own savings to get him through this difficult time, his balance is going down, he won’t be getting anything added till he gets his job back and this will affect his pension withdrawal once he reaches retirement age. But for now, it is something to look forward to.

Muni Shobna of the Octopus Resort in Waya Island is concerned about the same issue. She is currently on leave without pay and she knows that the allocated sum from FNPF will not last long.

She has been at the Octopus Resort for over 15 years in various capacities and is currently the Reservations Head and Operations Supervisor. She knows that the $1000 withdrawal will not stretch far during the coming months.

“I have to pay rent, pay the electricity, do the shopping. After that how much is left? It won’t be enough for the second and third month,” Shobna bemoans.

“Lucky it’s just me and my daughter. Imagine those with big families. Those who had to return to the village. It’s going to be really hard for them.”

At full capacity, the Octopus Resort had around 125 staff manning the resort. Currently only the resort’s General Manager and two security staff are left looking after the property and they are doing so without remuneration. They keep the property maintained, secure and ensure generators and other equipment are looked after.

Their final guest left on March 22 and the resort closed its doors the next day. All other staff members rushed to board boats back to the mainland as the nation’s ban on passenger travel between islands came into effect on Sunday 29 March.

Shobna points out that in doing so, staff residing in Lautoka were caught outside the city lockdown cordon and were left in a lurch.

She has had to assist some of her colleagues find temporary accommodation in order to wait out the lockdown. “It’s hard, you know,” she says, while understanding the need. “They just want to see their families.”

She knows it will be difficult to seek new employment during the crisis as the influx of recently unemployed tourism industry workers will also be looking for work as well and no-one will be looking to hire new staff in this current economic climate.

Her phone continues to ring with colleagues asking her when the resort will be open again for business.

“The staff keep calling me and to enquire about financial assistance,” she says “It’s so hard for them. I wish the Government will take a survey of the impact of (job losses due to) the COVID-19 has in the villages.”

That struggle is the same on Taveuni where Akanisi Rawalai, or Taka as she is known to friends, is based. Amongst other duties, she is the personal assistant to the Directors of Paradise Taveuni, a dive resort. From a full manning of 62, the resort has 17 staff members still on the premises, the majority of whom reside at the staff quarters and are all on leave without pay. They do odd jobs around the property for a few hours a day and are paid with meals that come mainly from the resorts own farm that has pigs, chickens, vegetables and a large variety of fruit. Staff are also provided fuel to allow them to fish occassionally to add to their meals.

“Our resort directors are so kind. They’re supporting all the staff who are unable to return home” said the Matuku, Lau native.

She has five dependent family members at home relying on her as the sole breadwinner, but she’s glad for repayment holidays on both bank loans and Court’s Hire Purchase. She is unsure about her next step as she knows they cannot rely on the resort’s owners for too long.

“Tourism is the only thing we know on Taveuni (if you don’t farm). I don’t have any other source of income here” she said.

Bio, Shobna and Taka’s options are few and their future and that of the families they support look bleak while they cope as best they can.

Like the rest of Fiji, they’re hoping and praying for this medical crisis that has forced a world-wide economic downturn to be over sooner rather than later, or risk running out of what little they already have.

By: Fantasha Lockington – CEO, FHTA

Published in the Fiji Times on 30 March 2020 

Fiji Airways to Operate First Freighter Service

Fiji Airways to Operate First Freighter Service

1 April 2020 – Fiji Airways will operate its first freighter flight this Sunday between Nadi and Sydney. Fiji Airways’ Airbus A350-900WXB aircraft will carry 41 tonnes of fresh produce across to Sydney. On the return sector, the airline will assist the Fijian Ministry of Health by bringing back 11.1 tonnes of medical equipment from Sydney. The medical equipment, donated by UNICEF, consists of temperature screening tents which will be vital in the fight against COVID-19.

Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO said: ‘We are delighted to start our freight flights from this Sunday with a full shipment of fresh produce to Sydney on our A350 aircraft. This will greatly assist growers, producers and exporters continue their business, support the economy and support the livelihood of Fijians dependent on these sectors. We are also more than happy to carry the medical equipment from Sydney for Fijian Health authorities free of charge.”

Importers and businesses, especially those wishing to bring in essential supplies to Fiji from Sydney this Sunday can contact their Freight Forwarders for bookings.

Mr. Viljoen added: “Our A350 aircraft with its superior cargo payload capacity is ideally suited for freight purposes in the current situation. We encourage all producers, exporters and importers to contact their Freight Forwarders to book space, which will allow us to determine demand and schedule freight services to/from overseas markets accordingly.”