2 Apr 2012

Fiji tourism official defends decision to impose travel embargo

7:16 pm on 2 April 2012

A Fiji government official is defending the decision to impose a travel embargo as a result of severe flooding in parts of the main island, Viti Levu.

Fiji is now bracing for Cyclone Daphne, which is expected to pass close to the country overnight, but the flooding of the past few days has already caused the deaths of four people and forced thousands into evacuation centres.

The permanent secretary for the Ministry of Tourism, Elizabeth Powell, says the embargo on incoming visitors, which was lifted this afternoon, affected between two and three thousand tourists.

"We just wanted to be sure that everybody was OK. So with Nadi being cut off as it was over the weekend we had to make a decision that was responsible. Because otherwise we would have had people having to overnight in Nadi, Nadi airport that is, or otherwise try and make their way to the hotels, which were already full."

Elizabeth Powell says the decision to stop people coming into Fiji wasn't taken lightly and is not likely to be repeated anytime soon.