What is the Bula Bubble?
The Bula Bubble is a travel arrangement the Fiji government has proposed to welcome back holidaymakers from Australia and New Zealand. This would allow visitors from both countries to travel to Fiji after meeting a set of requirements.
On 21 June Fiji’s Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, presented Phase 2 of its COVID-Safe Economic Recovery Framework. The framework outlines a three phased approach which aims to stop importation of the virus, ensure health system readiness, and COVID-proof Fijian businesses and society at-large.
Guidelines for the Fijian tourism industry to operate within the framework were also released along with the ‘Bula Bubble’ and ‘Vacation in Paradise’ (VIP) concepts which outline how Fiji could open its borders to international visitors.
The Fiji government is working with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji to welcome back Australians and New Zealanders to holiday in Fiji in a way that is carefully controlled and safely insulated. “Everywhere they go will be wholly dedicated to others who match the same criteria, safely guided by what we’re calling ‘VIP lanes’, allowing them to vacation in paradise” Mr Bainimarama said.
The VIP lanes are specific pathways where tourists may spend their holiday in Fiji. These will be areas demarcated to ensure there is minimal contact with Fijians and, where there is contact, ensuring that such contact is controlled and limited.
When will the Bula Travel Bubble Start?
No official date has been set, however, Fiji Airways is launching its Bula Bubble Campaign to attract tourists back to Fiji. The campaign will offer the most attractive Fijian holiday packages ever to Australian and New Zealand visitors which includes a $400 stipend for every visitor purchasing a holiday package within the Campaign for the first 150,000 visitors.
Although the Bula Bubble has yet to commence, Fiji’s ‘Blue Lanes’ are now open and welcomed its first vessel carrying two New Zealanders on 17 July. Fiji is anticipating the arrival of 100 boats in the coming weeks.
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How to Visit Fiji as a Tourist
Australian and New Zealand travellers would have the following options:
Option One: Travellers are required to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying their 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative COVID test result within 48 hours of their departure for Fiji, at which point they can immediately start their “Bula Bubble” holiday within confined VIP lanes.
Option Two: Upon arrival in Fiji, they can complete 14 days of quarantine at their own cost in a Fijian Government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which a negative COVID test can clear them to start their “Bula Bubble” vacation.
The costs of COVID-19 tests and any isolation or quarantine related costs, including accommodation or meals will be borne by the tourist.
Mr Bainimarama said for those that meet the requirements they will be allowed to “once again enjoy the best of Fiji while remaining separate from any other travellers and the general public.” However, it is clear that all tourist movements will be contained within the ‘VIP lanes’ beginning on the flight to Fiji, arrival into Nadi Airport and onto designated transport to designated resorts or hotels where tourists will remain throughout their stay.
Travelling to Fiji by Boat- Blue Lanes
Fiji has also established what they’re calling “Blue Lanes” which is open to yachts and pleasure crafts sailing to Fiji. Any boat coming to Fiji will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis and the only port of entry will be Port Denarau Marina.
The options for tourists travelling to Fiji via boat are as follows:
Option one: If the journey to Fiji will take 14 days or more uninterrupted at sea, once they dock in Fiji and show proof of a recent negative test result, everyone on board will be screened. If all are deemed healthy, the yacht will be allowed to freely visit other ports throughout Fiji.
Option two: If the journey at sea is shorter than 14 days, passenegers will be required to make up the difference in quarantine once they dock in Fiji at their own cost. After the quarantine period, they can be cleared by a negative test result and freely visit other ports in the country.
Latest News on the Bula Bubble
Fijian government believes it can safely welcome visitors from NZ soon
FBC News – 5 August 2020
According to FBC news the Fijian government believes it can safely welcome visitors from New Zealand very soon.
Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Yogesh Karan while leading a Fijian delegation at a virtual roundtable meeting said close consultations continue with Australia and New Zealand to resume passenger air travel.
Meet the first family to sail from New Zealand to Fiji since the lockdown lifted
Stuff.Co – 31 July 2020
Stuff recently reported that the Coopers were the first family to sail from New Zealand to Fiji since Aotearoa’s lockdown lifted.
As American citizens, the Coopers are not required to adhere to the New Zealand Government’s advice to avoid overseas travel at this time, and Fiji’s Blue Lane programme offered them the lifeline they’d been looking for.
Announced in late June, the programme paves the way for yachts and pleasure craft to enter Port Denarau in Nadi once they have met criteria, including 14 days of quarantine at sea and returned a negative Covid-19 test result.
Fiji opens up to boats in a bid to get some tourism rolling
RNZ.Co – 27 July 2020
As reported by RNZ, Fiji’s ‘Blue Lanes’ “are officially open and the government says it’s expecting the arrival of 100 boats to the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
With its ‘Bula Bubble’ proposal with New Zealand and Australia yet to get off the ground, Fiji’s Blue Lanes initiative begins what the government hopes will be the ailing tourism industry’s road to recovery.
The first vessel berthed at the Port Denarau Marina in Nadi last week with two New Zealanders on board.
Boat owners must also show proof of a negative test result for Covid-19 and everyone onboard will need to undergo screening by Fijian health officials when they are allowed through the lanes.
Country still depends on the tourism industry: Economy Minister
FBC News – 27 July 2020
FBC News reports Fiji Airways has been selected to set-up and lead the Bula Bubble Campaign, which will offer attractive Fiji holiday packages to Australian and New Zealand visitors.
Through the packages the hotels must reduce their rates by at least 45 percent and the airline will also reduce their rates.
Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted that as per the package people will be able to pay now and travel later which will help Fiji preposition itself. “So we have allocated $60m so from the government’s side we will pay $400 per tourist that enters Fiji under the package. It’s for the first 150,000 tourists” said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
Fiji’s Covid-crippled economy sees half islands out of work
NZ Herald – 24 July 2020
NZ Heral reported that while Fiji is currently virus-free, having only recorded 27 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths, the islands have been devastated by the collapse of the tourism industry, which employs around 150,000 people and fuels the nation’s economy.
Earlier this month Fiji proposed a “Bula Bubble” travel arrangement with Australia and New Zealand, that would allow residents of both countries to travel to Fiji as long as they returned a negative virus test before arriving, and quarantined for 14 days either at home or in a Fijian hotel.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said travellers would be required to limit their movement around the country to specially approved reports, transport and hotels.
Fiji expecting over 100 yachts and superyachts in the next few weeks
Fiji Village – 23 July 2020
According to a Fiji Village article, Fiji is expecting to welcome over 100 yachts and superyachts in the next few weeks. Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this at the Post 2020-2021 Budget Forum Question and Answer Session organized by the Fiji-Australia Business Council and the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council.
Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji is the only independent South Pacific country that has a WHO certified testing facility, where you get tested within 6 hours and get your results.
He says because of our health status we are in a better position to talk to Australia and New Zealand about the Bula Bubble.
He says they have again written to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and liaising with the Australian High Commissioner John Feakes.
Sayed-Khaiyum says there are more opportunities in relaxing health measures to allow for travel between New Zealand as they are coming close to being COVID-19 contained like Fiji.
Fiji Airways Further Extends Flight Cancellations to end of August
Fiji Airways – 14 July 2020
As stated on the Fiji Airways website, the airline has extended international flight cancellations through to the end of August. The continued cancellations are due to prolonged border closures and travel restrictions as a consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic. While the current international schedule for August is cancelled, the airline is preparing a new network plan which will be announced once border restrictions ease.
Mr. Andre Viljoen, Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO said: “The cancellation of August services allows us to prepare and position a new updated international schedule for deployment as soon as practical. Whether this will be in August remains to be seen. However, we are encouraged by the recent move to ‘Phase 2’ for Fiji in its response to COVID-19, as well as a travel framework which allows for the creation of specific ‘air corridors’ with certain countries.”
“One such corridor under the framework is the ‘Bula Bubble with our traditional markets – Australia and New Zealand. This framework provides a clear path forward for the two countries to seriously consider opening borders to Fiji, thereby stimulating travel demand. Fiji Airways is leading an Industry Taskforce alongside Fijian health authorities to satisfy all requirements for safe international flying under the Government’s framework.”