Aussies have been yearning for an overseas holiday for two years – and one of the first places to open up is already being smashed with thousands of bookings.
Aussies desperate for an overseas island getaway have jumped on their first opportunity to get away, flooding hotel and airline sites to book a Fiji holiday.
Fiji announced earlier this month it would be reopening its borders from December 1 to fully vaccinated Australians.
With other Aussie island favourites like Bali and Thailand still to confirm when they might welcome Australians back, thousands have embraced Fiji.
News.com.au understands a number of hotels have had seen their booking records broken over the past week, with one resort recording $60,000 worth of bookings in a single day.
Flights are also being snapped up, with only a handful of seats available on December dates.
Fiji Airways managing director and CEO Andre Viljoen said Australians made up the lion’s share of bookings.
“Since declaring that we will resume flights to Fiji for international tourists from December 1, we have had an enormous influx of bookings and inquiries from Australia,” he said.
Only seven people booked flights on the day the border announcement was made, however that number has risen sharply in the past nine days, with more than 1000 people booking flights on Monday.
“These are bookings from just our Aussie friends, and this makes up about 90 per cent of the overall bookings for Fiji Airways flights and Fiji Airways Holidays packages,” Mr Viljoen said.
“Our tourism industry is very excited to give our international visitors a big bula welcome from December 1.”
Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill said the nation was ready for an onslaught of international tourists, citing Fiji’s high vaccination rates and a World Health Organisation-approved standard of Covid control.
Fiji has fully vaccinated more than 80 per cent of its adult population.
“It has been an incredible few days. We’ve been blown away by the demand for Fiji since announcing our borders reopening and we are really excited to welcome tourists back. The data we are seeing coming through from airlines, hotels and retailers is more than we could have predicted but indicates that there’s a big pent-up demand for travel after such a long time with border closures,” Mr Hill said.
“Even with the narrow gap between the first flight and Christmas, we’ve still seen a lot of interest and subsequent bookings with families and groups ready to reunite once again.
“We know that we can offer a really safe travel experience, with our Care Fiji Commitment and high vaccine rates, we’ve worked hard to reassure travellers that when they get here, they’ll be reassured that Fiji cares about its guests.”
Fiji is also offering a number of “unprecedented” sales for travellers, with deals up to 45 per cent cheaper than those offered in 2019, according to Mr Hill.
And Australians aren’t just snapping up flights to Fiji – they’re also booking out resorts well into 2022.
Luxury Escapes, which sells joint air and hotel packages with Fiji Airways, had its biggest day of sales in history over the weekend, selling more than 10,000 nights in hotels in just four days.
“We knew there would be a demand for Fiji but could not have predicted how big this would be,” a Luxury Escapes spokesman said.
“It’s a promising and refreshing sign to see that international [travel] is coming back with a vengeance and we could not be happier to be supporting our partners.”
Malolo Island and Likuliku Lagoon Resorts have also experienced an influx of bookings after being closed for the past 20 months.
The 300 staff across both resorts were all stood down during that time, however Ahura Resorts, the Fijian company that owns and operates Malolo and Likuliku, used food vouchers to keep their staff and families eating.
Both resorts are already experiencing a strong influx of bookings well into 2022, with Malolo opening from December 20 and Likuliku opening on February 1 next year.
“We have waited and worked hard towards this day for a long time. There are probably not enough words to explain the feelings of excitement, relief and joy we have, that we can finally get our staff back to work and, once again, welcome our valued guests to our shores,” Ahura Resorts owner and managing director Tony Whitton said.