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Fiji – Cruisers report on the Current Situation

By Sue Richards last modified Jun 09, 2009 03:57 PM

Published: 2009-06-09 15:57:54
Countries: Fiji

Posted 27 April 2009

With the latest political developments in Fiji (see a BBC news report here and Associated Press report here) noonsite has received a few reports from cruisers and local businesses in Fiji offering advice and information for those thinking about heading that way.

The general feeling amongst the locals seems to be that things aren’t great for them, however the political situation currently is not affecting tourists or visiting yachts. As one local commented, “Things are pretty depressing for locals but isn't going to make a whit of difference for tourists, whether or not they're on yachts.”

Susanne Ames, of S/V Cheshire, a frequent cruiser to Fiji, advises; “The latest coup government has been in power for more than two years now, and apart from some strange attempts to force importation of returning yachts in 2008, has not appeared to greatly impact visitors. However, those contemplating a visit to Fiji this year should monitor developments closely as these events seem to indicate a turn for the worse. Cruisers might want to monitor radio NZ and Australian radio shortwave broadcasts (or newspapers & internet where available) to get a more complete picture of what's going on. It's too bad, as it is a lovely country and the Fijians we met in 2007 are generally nice people”.

Michael Homsany of Bebi Electronics in Fiji e-mailed: “Although I'm not going to say that things are great here (they aren't), there are two very important things going on which have positively impacted yachts visiting Fiji.

First, the Government's new 18 month, no import duty, no minimum time out of country policy, plus Immigrations having moved in November 2008 to create a special visa for yachties once their initial six month tourist visa's expired.

Second, the “New Legal Order” has devalued the Fiji dollar by 20%, effectively lowering many costs for visiting yachts within Fiji.

As I've posted elsewhere, a couple of cautions: First, with the piracy situation off Somalia increasing yachtie tension, and the abrogation of the constitution increasing tension with the military/police forces here, the combination of the two, in conjunction with weapons (firearms) aboard a yacht could literally turn explosive. If you have firearms on board, whether or not you intend to declare them, I would advise against travel here at least until the PER (Public Emergency Regulations-martial law) is revoked.

Second, a yacht recently got a thorough “going-over” inspection, with the suspicion of wrong-doing being triggered by failing to properly complete the form C.2.C, Notice of Arrival, which needs to be received by Fiji Customs no earlier than 48 hours prior to arrival. So, in other words, if there is a blank on the form that doesn't pertain, please enter “n/a” in the blank. (The form can be downloaded either from the FIRCA website, or from http://www.waituimarinafiji.com/clearance.html).

Further comment has been received from the owners of a local business in Savusavu – Windward Apparel Ltd:

"Currently the status in Fiji is calm, peaceful and beautiful. We have the same government now as we have had since the 2006 change, so there is no instability. The devaluation of the Fiji dollar means that the visiting yacht gets more for their money. That is a very good thing. The quality of local products is still good and plentiful. If there are rumours of anything other than what I have mentioned, then one has to be suspicious of biased media reporting. And that now has been stopped. So our own local media reports are more honest and give us positive reading. Unless you are here to participate in anything other than visiting, nothing has changed except the fact that now your yacht can stay the full 18 months and all the "scary" rumours about excessive taxes and duties has obviously been clarified.

Something to note is that members of the current government have personally contacted us to determine what reaction this change in yacht arrivals and stays is having on future arrivals. They are very interested in what the yachties are looking for and what their thoughts are.

We have been in Fiji for 8 years now and are running a business in Savusavu and have done so for 5 years. We have not experienced any changes to cause concern."

Noonsite will report should the situation in Fiji develop such that it has an impact on visiting yachts.

Posted 9 June 2009

(The Coup) doesn't seem to have much influence on most people's lives, but I find it a drag. Suva businesses have to close at 6 pm now unless they apply weekly and pay $20.00 for permits. I don't think that applies to other towns. I'm not sure if gas stations are exempted, but it sounds like it applies to bars, grocery stores (which mostly closed at 7 pm). mom and pop stores, etc are affected.

From a cruiser, resident in Fiji

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