'Bula Bubble' for Australian tourists: Fiji to set aside luxury isolation resorts for travellers

The Fiji Government wants to open VIP (Vacation in Paradise) lanes for Australian and New Zealand travellers. This means trans-Tasman holidaymakers would be kept away from the public, and tourists from other countries, and be sent straight out to ANZAC resorts. You wouldn't be able to travel anywhere else, essentially making them luxury isolation facilities.

To be eligible for the "Bula Bubble" you need to present a certificate from a "recognised medical institution" stating you isolated for 14 days before travel, and provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within 48 hours of their departure.

Fiji's government has provided a second option where you can pay to stay at a quarantine facility, or hotel, for 14 days then conduct a test. If that comes back negative, you'll then be allowed into the main "Bula Bubble" hotels with the rest of the New Zealand and Australian travellers.

The Fiji government hasn't given a start date for the scheme, although Fiji Airways is scheduled to resume flights from Auckland in late August, with sale fares now on.

Australian and New Zealand governments are likely to be anxious about the prospect of travellers mixing with those from places like the United States while on holiday, and it's hoped having New Zealand/Australia only resorts will help alleviate that. A potential problem with the plan is the community transmission of Covid-19 being reported here in Australis, raising the possibility of whether Fiji may consider setting aside hotels just for Kiwis.

Fiji's government says it's "currently identifying geographically-isolated resorts that are the best fit for the 'Bula Bubble'." It could be hotels like VOMO, a favourite with trans-Tasman travellers, where guests would be privately shuttled to the island then spend the rest of the time there.

"To be clear, any tourist who comes to Fiji on these terms still won't be able to move freely throughout the country. All of their movement will be contained within the VIP lanes, starting on the airplane, then from the Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel, where they'll remain throughout their stay," said Bainimarama.

There are a couple of big question marks around the scheme, such as whether Australians and Kiwis will need to quarantine on their return home. Holidaymakers are also unlikely to get travel insurance until our government lifts its "do not travel" advice.

In response to Fiji's announcement, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement saying it was exploring opportunities to expand the concept of a trans-Tasman Covid-19 travel safe zone, however, pointedly mentioned Pacific Realm countries - meaning places like Rarotonga might be first in time.

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"New Zealand has close connections with the Pacific, particularly the Realm countries as they are New Zealand citizens. We will be very mindful of this as we explore options for our border. The potential for a 'travel zone' has been discussed at a high level with some Pacific partners. However, it remains imperative that we avoid the spread of Covid-19 within the region."

Stuff.co.nz

See also: Closer than Bali: Why we're flocking to 'the world's happiest country'

See also: Twenty things that will shock first-time visitors to Fiji

See also: Airline review: Comfort factor is perfect on this brand new A350 out of Sydney

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