NZ cautious about Fiji ‘Bula Bubble’

Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama with New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern in London, 2018 Photo: Supplied

The New Zealand government says it’s taking a cautious approach to Fiji’s ‘Bula Bubble’ proposal.

Wellington’s response follows Fiji’s announcement this week that it was hoping to establish a tourism bubble with Australia and New Zealand, to attract visitors.

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said tourists could be contained and prevented from mixing with locals.

NC Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

“VIP lanes – starting on the airplane, then from Nadi Airport onto designated transport to their designated resort or hotel where they’ll remain throughout their stay”, Mr Bainimarama said.

Fiji was identifying geographically-isolated resorts best suited for the Bula Bubble, he said.

New Zealand said it was exploring opportunities to expand the concept of a trans-Tasman Covid-19 “travel safe zone”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said while her government was talking with Pacific nations, it was imperative New Zealanders avoided spreading or contracting Covid-19 within the region.

“Fiji are in a position where they have seen lower numbers than many others (but) they haven’t been entirely Covid-free though,” Ms Ardern said.

Aerial view of Leleuvia Resort, Fiji Photo: Supplied

“We’ve set up our own criteria for what we’d expect in the event of opening up bubbles. It’s fair to say that at the moment, of course the border remains the biggest vulnerability so it’s the area where we will be the most cautious.”

New Zealand’s opposition leader Todd Muller said that criteria should be shared with Pacific nations like Fiji.

“They have been without a Covid case for many, many weeks now,” he said.

“They are, I’m sure, putting huge pressure on New Zealand and Australia to be innovative in the way holiday travel could be opened up to that market.”


Fiji has not had a Covid-19 case in more than 60 days and it has been more than 90 days since its first case was reported.

The Fiji government said while the country was not yet Covid-free, it was “Covid-contained”.

“Contained is the key word here because as the pandemic rages around the world and until we have a globally-available vaccine, no country can truly claim to be truly covid-free so long as it allows its citizens to return to their home country,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“We can aim for the next best thing: absolute containment. So long as those entering Fiji pose no risk to the public at large we will remain Covid-contained.”

Mr Bainimarama said Bula Bubble travellers would have to present a certificate from a recognised medical institution certifying 14 days of quarantine in their home country, along with proof of a negative Covid-19 test result within 48 hours of their departure to Fiji.

Alternatively, upon arrival in Fiji, travellers could complete “14 days of quarantine, at their own cost, in a Fijian government-designated quarantine centre or a hotel of their choosing, after which they would have to undergo a Covid-19 test”.

“If either Australia or New Zealand becomes Covid-contained, the quarantine requirements for travelers from that country will be lifted, and movement can expand beyond these bubbles to everywhere else in Fiji.”

Source: RNZ