on 2 Aug 2020
Fiji has received its first yacht, Renegade, under the Blue Lane initiative it introduced a month ago.
Offered by the Fijian government to vessels who long to “escape the Covid-19 pandemic in paradise”, Blue Lanes allows yachts that meet requirements to enter into Port Denarau Marina in Nadi. Yachts must spend at least 14 continuous days quarantining at sea without stopping at other ports on the way, and must be able to provide a negative Covid-19 test result of all people onboard before being accepted.
“The initiative is the first step towards economic recovery for Fiji in the tourism sector”, explains Port Denarau Marina chief executive officer Cynthia Rasch on the rationale behind the move. Tourism is one of Fiji’s largest economic drivers. Rasch adds that the “strict measures in place ensure minimal risk to the community while trying to save local businesses and jobs.”
Fiji’s Tourism Minister Faiyaz Koya claims nearly US$40,000 was injected into the Fijian economy in just two days, following the arrival of Renegade. Presently, 26 other yachts have been approved to berth at Denarau Marina, and over 100 applications for yachts wanting to visit Fiji under the initiative have been received to date. Koya says the country anticipates the scheme bringing approximately US$1 million dollars into the country by the end of the year.
Although the Blue Lane is currently only applicable to Denarau Marina, Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is optimistic about the scheme’s potential. “If this pilot project is successful, we will consider extending Blue Lanes to other ports and marinas,” says Bainimarama.
A Pacific Pathways initiative that would allow tourists from Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga to fly into Fiji to further aid Fiji’s hard-hit tourism industry is also in the works.