28 Jul 2005

Fiji Visitors Bureau says TVNZ report has led to NZ holidaymakers cancelling trips to Fiji

9:41 am on 28 July 2005

Tension caused by the Fiji government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill is already affecting the country's vital tourist industry.

A Television New Zealand report on Tuesday night which described Fiji's political temperature as being near boiling point is said to have resulted in over 300 New Zealand tourists cancelling their holidays by yesterday afternoon.

The TVNZ story said the military was threatening to overthrow the government if it passed the Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

It also featured an interview with an Israeli trained security officer, Vilikesa Raqio, who said he had a private protection force ready to provide security for the prime minister and the government against the Fiji military.

It featured pictures of Israeli military training, footage of the 2000 Fiji coup and an arms cache in a Fijian village.

The Fiji Times says the chief executive of the Fiji Visitors Bureau, Bill Gavoka, has urged foreign media to refrain from giving credence to "crackpots like Raqio" and instead ask him to go to his village and plant tapioka.

Meanwhile, Australia has issued a travel advisory to its citizens holidaying in Fiji to be mindful of the political climate there.

The advisory said tensions have risen over the Reconciliation and Unity Bill and urged Australians to maintain good personal security awareness.