Incredible scenes were recorded both at the airport and on the streets after Fiji once again welcomed its first tourists in nearly two years.

Incredible scenes were recorded after Fiji welcomed its first tourists in almost two years, pushing the reopening despite the unknown threat from Omicron.

Despite the potential threat, Fiji welcomed hundreds of Australian tourists from Sydney and Brisbane on Wednesday.

Fiji has tightened restrictions on arrivals from southern Africa, but made no changes to the rules surrounding “travel partner” countries, whose citizens can now experience a tropical getaway to the Pacific idyll.

Fiji Airways’ first sightseeing flight took passengers on a special flight over the resorts of Nadi and the Coral Coast, where the beaches were lined with tour teams offering a resounding Bula series! to welcome visitors, the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association said in a statement.

As the plane rolled down the runway, two fire trucks lined up and pointed their hoses in the air to honor him with a “water salute.”

Such was the excitement, arrivals were then greeted with traditional performances and a Fijian government delegation led by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Nadi International Airport.

From the airport, passengers were then transported to one of more than 200 hotels, but not without another “welcome party” in the streets caught on social media.

Australians flee for Fiji

Dozens of people flocked to Sydney International Airport to catch the first flight to Nadi in more than 20 months, with the plane scheduled to land just before 11:30 a.m. local time.

The reasons travelers gave for escaping to Fiji were mixed, some going to see family they had not seen in years, but many others were leaving to celebrate their honeymoons, wedding anniversaries and more. baby moons.

Newlyweds Samuel and Melissa Kares, who tied the knot last Monday, said their dream was initially to move to the Maldives, but Fiji was a worthy replacement.

“We got married last Monday… so we wanted to go to the Maldives originally – then we downgraded Queensland when we planned it a year and a half ago – then it looked like Melbourne, because we’re from Melbourne, but thank goodness it opened up for us to go to Fiji, ”Samuel said.

“We are very happy with Fiji. “

The couple said they weren’t too worried about the Omicron variant – just about the potential risk of the hotel being quarantined.

“We just hope when we come back it won’t be too difficult… the foreclosure rules and everything,” Melissa said.

“But we are lucky because we can work from home. “

Joel Fitzgibbon and his partner Trizzia Zuluaga were making one last swing abroad as a couple before their baby was born.

“We just needed a trip somewhere nearby. I chose Fiji mainly because I didn’t know what my morning sickness would be like on the plane, so this is probably our last vacation as a couple, ”said Trizzia.

“We’re just trying to make the most of it before the end of the year.”

The couple had no idea they were on the first flight, admitting they jumped at the chance after seeing an advertisement for Fiji Airways on social media.

“I literally saw a post on Facebook saying that Fiji Airways was starting flights on December 1st and within an hour I had this accommodation and everything was booked,” Trizzia said.

The couple are only leaving for a week and are not worried about the Omicron variant.

“I think we should be safe in Fiji. We just need to keep our cool, but there’s a lot of testing out there so we’ll have to keep up with the news, ”added Trizzia.

Alex and Bella Epshteyn traveled to Fiji to celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary.

“We didn’t know we were on the first flight when we booked, but now we know… we’re very excited,” said Bella.

The couple said there was no point in worrying about Omicron.

“It’s not really under our control anyway… so we might as well run away,” Bella said.

Most of the people spoke to did not know they had been on the first flight to Fiji in over 20 months, many admitting that they had simply jumped at the chance to s ‘escape.

Sofia Joseph, who was traveling with her 11-year-old son, said they were leaving both on vacation and to see family.

“We decided to take our chances and go,” she said.

“We haven’t been on vacation since 2017 and since confinement I’ve worked so many hours, I work in the health sector so yes it’s a well-deserved vacation.”

Ms Joseph said she had some fears about Omicron, but their short trip meant she felt safe.

“Last night I was a little hesitant whether I was going to go or not, but we’re only going for a week, just to relax a bit, leave and then come back,” she said.

Ravneet Prasad, from Fiji, said he was desperate to see his family after being unable to return home for more than two years.

“I am going to visit my family and friends, I missed them a lot,” he said.

“I hope we’ll be back before anything happens … this Omicron is a bit up in the air. We’ve planned a week and a half but we haven’t paid for our return ticket, maybe we’ll come back early if we need to. ”

Australia became one of dozens of countries around the world to reimpose restrictions on international arrivals over the weekend after the worrying variant was identified in nine countries in southern Africa.

All international arrivals not prohibited by the new restrictions must self-isolate for 72 hours and await the results of a PCR test.

The federal government has suspended the arrival of foreign students, migrants and working holiday visa holders – which was due to start today – until December 15.

The travel bubble with South Korea and Japan was also put on hold for two weeks.

There were concerns that Fiji would take similar action against Australia, but the country has already taken many steps to ensure it remains safe from Covid.

More than 90% of the Fijian population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and all arrivals must be fully vaccinated and return a negative PCR test within 72 hours of their flight.

Tourists are also required to stay at a Covid-approved resort, where they will then undergo a rapid antigen test for the coronavirus within 48 hours of arriving in Fiji.

Fiji Airways chief executive and CEO Andre Viljoen said the airline and the country had “worked hard since March last year to prepare for this moment.”

“The safety of our customers and staff will always be our top priority. All of our staff are fully vaccinated, our new Travel Ready program is dedicated to medical safety and well-being, and Fiji Airways is the only airline in the Australia-Pacific region to achieve a 5-star Skytrax safety rating. Covid as well as the highest hospital quality. ‘Diamond’ certification by APEX Health and Safety, ”Viljoen said.

There were fears Omicron could halt the reopening of Fiji, but the country’s national carrier said it had taken steps to ensure safety.

In a statement released earlier this week, Fiji Airways said it was “working closely with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services to monitor and minimize the risk of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.”

“Fiji already has several layers of health and safety protection protocols against Covid-19 and its potential variants as part of its border reopening framework which was designed to even deal with situations like this,” Fiji Airways said.

“Fiji Airways is committed to ensuring the safety of travelers, citizens and staff as Fiji reopens its borders to tourists from travel partner countries. “

Fiji Airways said it also added an additional measure at the airport – a declaration form allowing all travelers to declare where they have been in the past 14 days.

“Fiji Airways and the Fiji tourism industry look forward to welcoming visitors and returning Fijians… after nearly 20 months from December 1,” the airline said.

“The return of tourists means a return to jobs in Fijian tourism and the return of critical income streams to the Fijian economy.”