NADI — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Fiji today signed a $3 million (F$6.3 million) grant from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific, financed by the Government of Japan, to help the country prepare for a much-anticipated upswing in tourist arrivals.
The grant will improve the capacity to test for and contain COVID-19 at Nadi International Airport, which reopened to international tourists late last year.
The Fiji Enhancing COVID-19 Preparedness for Tourism Recovery Project is being supported by an in-kind contribution of $270,000 from the Government of Fiji.
Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office in Fiji Aaron Batten signed the grant agreement today. Fiji Airways Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre Viljoen and Fiji Airports CEO Isei Tudreu signed the project agreement with Mr. Batten. Japan’s Ambassador to Fiji Kamakami Fumihiro witnessed the event.
The grant project will help the airport to adopt COVID-19 measures to reduce the risk of transmission and deliver a testing facility for tourists and those working in the tourism industry to facilitate international travel.
“The opening of Fiji’s borders in December last year brings hope for a revival of tourism, which remains key to a quick economic turnaround,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. “Tourism is critical to Fiji’s economy and this grant from the Government of Japan will help promote a safe tourism recovery.”
The project will benefit almost 90,000 people employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry. Women working in tourism—many employed in low-skilled work—have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our national effort to overcome the worst of the pandemic has restored the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Fijians—with more getting back to work every day. This partnership supports a major upgrade for the award-winning Nadi International Airport that sets our tourism industry on a sustainable path towards recovery,” said Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum. “By constantly seeking ways to make travel to Fiji easier, simpler, and safer, we will ensure that we remain open for happiness throughout our recovery and beyond.”
The project will fund the construction of a new boarding gate, lounge, and isolation room, as well as equipment to support infection prevention and disease control. COVID-19 testing in Nadi will be expanded through the procurement of automated reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test machines.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.