The stunning South Pacific nation of Fiji is heavily reliant on tourism but Covid-19 and a devastating cyclone season have dealt a bitter blow (photo courtesy Unsplash).
Fiji has been hit by not one but two devastating cyclones this season, causing widespread flooding.
Cyclone Ana followed December’s cyclone Yasa at the weekend and a third cyclone, Bina, has been downgraded to a tropical depression. Fiji’s cyclone season has another three months still to run.
Fiji’s second largest island, Vanua Levu, was particularly badly affected by Ana with torrential rain and strong winds causing flooding and widespread damage to properties. One person has died, five are missing and around 10,000 residents have been evacuated. Schools have been closed, major roads have been destroyed by landslides and water and electricity supplies have also been cut off.
The government is now asking Australia to fast-track the proposed ‘Bula Bubble’ travel corridor to allow Australian tourists to return to the South Pacific nation.
Fiji has been relatively successful in containing the coronavirus pandemic and has now gone almost 300 days with no new infections.
“If you say to me, you’d like to send 10,000 tourists, I’d give you a hug,” the minister responsible for climate change, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, told Australian media. “That is how desperate things are.”
Meanwhile, prime minister Frank Bainimarama remained outspoken about the impact that climate change is having on the islands in the Pacific. “Today, my priority is on Fijians’ safety,” he said. “But the rest of the world needs to wake up and reckon with why this is happening.”