TOURISM OFFICIALS PROTEST TRAVEL WARNINGS

SUVA. Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 3) – The Fiji Islands Hotel and Tourism Association feels that Fiji has been unfairly graded by overseas countries with regards to their travel advisory in the wake of the situation in the country.

Association president Dixon Seeto said some countries had graded Fiji as Level 4, meaning that there was a high risk for overseas citizens who would be travelling to Fiji.

Mr Seeto said Level 4 was the grade given to countries which had a high level of risk such as Thailand.

He said Thailand was graded as Level 4 because of the weekend bombing which killed two people.

"But grading Fiji as Level 4 is unfair because as far as Fiji is concerned there has been no bombing and there has not been any death which could be blamed on the situation in the country," said Mr Seeto.

He said the governments of New Zealand and Japan had dropped their threat level from Fiji and he was confident that other countries such as Australia would follow suit.

"Fiji should be given more credit because there is no danger to the lives of tourists who are here as tourists and visitors and so the threat level should reviewed," he said.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs website has five different levels of advice for its citizens travelling overseas.

The advice includes being alert to their own security, exercising caution and monitoring developments which might affect their safety, exercising a high degree of caution, reconsidering their need to travel to a particular country and if things get worse, then the final advice is to not to travel to that particular country.

Based on the different levels of travel advice, the DFAT has advised its citizens to reconsider their need to travel to Fiji at this time because of what it said was the "increasingly volatile political security situation".

"The security situation could deteriorate without warning. If you are in the capital Suva and concerned for your safety, you should consider leaving," the advice warned Australians in Fiji at the moment.

He added that there was a lot of false rumours being spread about the situation in Fiji and that the real picture was no told.

He said it was safe to travel to Fiji because security was paramount.

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