A-G in discussion on inclusion in an expanded Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble
Talks are ongoing which may result in Fiji being included in an expanded Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble. Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed yesterday he had spoken with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
He also spoke with the New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker. Discussions focused on an expanded bubble, its requirements and the time period within which New Zealand and Australia are looking at opening up their borders.
“These things do not get resolved overnight or decisions are made overnight,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“There are various risks to be considered. We have put our hands up. We want to look at how we can place ourselves in a more prime position regarding, for example, the legal frameworks.”
While New Zealand’s first priority is opening up to Australia, Mr SayedKhaiyum suggested that there should be a more nuanced approach in terms of dealing with the Pacific.
“Pacific Island countries are different from each other, so rather than thinking that if they open up the bubble, they have to open it up to everybody.
There are different experiences of different Pacific Island countries, vis-à-vis COVID-19.
“There are different experiences, different capacities and capabilities of different systems and they need to assess each country individually - that’s what we tried to highlight.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said pertinent aspects to consider include temperature testing for passengers before and after a flight, airline tickets, travel insurance, quarantine costs, and overall expenses.
“All of that needs to be worked out. There needs to be a detailed analysis on that. There are a number of matters that needs to be addressed. We are quite keen to be part of the travel bubble,” he said.
“We need to be very proactive in the manner in which we mitigate those risks and put our best foot forward so that it gives confidence not only to Fijians, but to foreigners who want to do business with Fiji.”
An Air New Zealand cargo flight will arrive today, an indication of the trade that is taking place between the two countries.
Australian and Kiwi tourists consistently make up the biggest number of tourist arrivals every year; the Australians, more than the Kiwis.
In April last year, Fiji recorded 32,850 tourists from Australia and 16,126 from New Zealand.
Asian Development Bank Regional Director of the Pacific Sub-regional Office Masayuki Tachiiri (left), with Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum after signing the agreement at Ro Lalabalavu House in Suva on May 7, 2020.