Fiji Returning to Normal

An interim government has been appointed in Fiji with Ratu Josefa Iloilo as president, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry as minister of finance, and Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau as minister of tourism. Bainimarama is the only military officer in the new cabinet. The chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Ovini Bokini, has endorsed the interim government, saying it is time to move Fiji forward. These changes follow the military coup of December 5, 2006, which deposed the allegedly corrupt and racially-motivated administration of Laisenia Qarase, who is currently at his home on remote Vanua Balavu Island.

Since the coup, Fiji has remained calm. Military checkpoints have been set up to prevent troublemakers from entering the towns, and these have made Fiji a safer place to visit than it was before the coup. The United Kingdom has just acknowledged this reality, joining New Zealand and Japan in downgrading its travel advisory against visiting Fiji. Only the Australian government currently posts an advisory which advises its citizens to "reconsider your need to travel to Fiji." The Australian advisory is primarily a political sanction, and it has nothing to do with tourism or realities on the ground. It can be disregarded.

All reports from Fiji say that this is a great to time to visit. Travel wholesalers in New Zealand are offering deep discounts on tours to Fiji, and travelers currently in Fiji report receiving discounts of up to 40 percent at good medium-priced resorts while having the place to themselves. So my advice is, go to Fiji now. For visitors, things haven't been this good for a long time.

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