Editorial comment: Encouraging turn of events

Tourists in Namosi in this pre-COVID-19 photo. Picture: FILE

This issue of the reopening of our international border is attracting attention. As we gear up for the reopening next month, we are reminded about why tourism is important for many reasons, and high on that is the local economy.

So when Rosie Holidays announced it has received more than 5000 bookings over the past 10 days from Australia alone, the news should grab attention. That’s just one business! In fact it should make every Fijian sit up and take note.

Managing director Tony Whitton said this was a testament to the significant relaxing of travel restrictions made between Fiji and the Australian government.

He noted that the scenario on the ground was such that it was getting difficult to get “space over the Christmas period, December 23 to January 3 at some selected resorts”.

“So from our perspective the holiday packages launched by Fiji Airways, Tourism Fiji with our resort partners are selling remarkably well out of Australia,” he said.

He said about 600 employees were ready to return to work once operations begin.

“As we see a slow build in visitor arrivals our goal is to slowly bring our family of workers back to work. We will not be able to bring them all back at one time, but will be staged and gradual.”

The signs are quite positive on paper. The onus now is really on us all to ensure tourists are keen to visit our country, and will return home safe and free of COVID-19. We can all anticipate big things. Ideally, we want tourists to visit Fiji.

We want them to feel safe here, and we anticipate positive reviews of their time spent here. Key to all this is how well we can keep COVID-19 under control. That obviously means us all adhering to safety rules. We know what must be done.

We know about physical distancing. We know why we must wash our hands with soap and water often, and we know why we must wear a mask when we venture out in public. The importance of the industry is quite clear. Far too many have lost their jobs.

Far too many were directly impacted when the second wave started in April this year. Far too many people were forced to work reduced hours and many took massive pay cuts. To read about the high number of bookings for holidays here is encouraging.

But with that comes our responsibility as Fijians to play our role. We know what must be done!

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