COVID-19: Fiji businesses join calls for a Pacific bubble with New Zealand

Fiji businesses are urging the New Zealand Government to trial a new normal and create a Pacific travel bubble with the island nation. 

In announcing its annual Budget on Friday, the island nation said it was planning on scrapping the need for New Zealanders to quarantine on arrival. 

Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said "attractive packages" will also be offered by its national airline to attract tourists back there once the quarantine measures are scrapped, local news site Fiji Village reports. 

Vomo Island Resort general manager Justin King says if it's safe to open the borders, they should be open.

"We've had very few cases, we've controlled them really well and between New Zealand and the Pacific nations, we've got this opportunity to have this bubble," he told Newshub on Monday.

King said there is no domestic tourism market in Fiji, and the industry has been decimated by COVID-19.

"It's heartening to see just how beautiful and how well the Fijians are taking it," he said. "They're in good spirits and they're doing really well, but they need people to come back.

"We have no domestic business to speak of so, of course, it's meant that just about every resort or hotel on the island's had to close."

New Zealand's Government has also been in talks with the Cook Islands to resume quarantine-free travel. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office said last week that work was underway to establish a timeline for reopening travel with realm countries, but New Zealand was exercising caution.

National carrier Air New Zealand said it "pleased" discussions on the travel bubble we ongoing. A spokesperson said, "we look forward to providing safe travel between the two nations to more of our customers when possible".