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Insurance Offered For Tourists To Fiji


Wellington, June 7 - A Suva-based insurance company is offering travel insurance to tourists visiting Fiji, the Fiji Visitors Bureau said today.

Tourist numbers had dropped significantly since an armed coup on May 19. The country remains under martial law with 31 hostages, including deposed prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, being held by armed men in the parliamentary compound in Suva.

With New Zealand insurance companies no longer underwriting travel to Fiji, AON Risk Services Fiji had said it would arrange insurance cover for travellers to all of Fiji.

However, the visitors bureau advised against travelling to Suva.

``Anyone who wants to travel to Suva is not being particularly wise, given the current circumstances,'' Auckland director Penny Henderson told NZPA.

``We are advising people not to go to Suva, but we are stating that if people wish to travel to Fiji, then they should do so.

``The difficulty has been in obtaining travel insurance.''

There had been a substantial drop in visitor numbers in June, ``but we are still hopeful of being able to rebuild numbers once the crisis in Suva is resolved'', she said.

``In the meantime, we believe the insurance decision will encourage those still wanting to visit Fiji to continue with their plans.''

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised New Zealanders to avoid travel to Fiji until further notice.

In its travel advisory, New Zealanders in the greater Suva area were also told to prepare to leave Fiji, ``in case the need arises''.

A letter was sent from the High Commissioner in Suva, Tia Barrett, to all New Zealanders in Suva urging them to make their own plans to leave Suva.

``While the High Commission is committed to helping all New Zealanders as best we can, you should not rely on the High Commission being able to arrange transport for you in the event of a deterioration of the situation,'' the letter said.

``Under these circumstances the High Commission might not be able to offer you any assistance.''

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