Fiji Tourism Remains Robust After Cyclone Tomas

After battering Fiji with winds as high as 175 miles an hour and 23-foot wave sweels for four days, Cyclone Tomas, once a Category 4 storm, is now moving east and away from the south part of the country. As of Wednesday morning, there has been only one confirmed death, with unconfirmed reports of a few deaths increasing the number of those lost. The northern and eastern parts of the island chain have been declared disaster areas, and Australia government officials are saying that 17 of their country's citizens remain unaccounted for as of now.

Tourism Fiji CEO Josefa Tuamoto said most Fiji resorts were untouched and that international air services were back on full schedule, although domestic flights had been suspended pending a check of local airfields.

"We have been very lucky in that none of the hotels and resorts in the north has reported any injuries to tourists or any major structural damage," Tuamotu said. As for Viti Levu and the offshore Mamanuca and Yasawa islands, where much of Fiji's tourism infrastructure is located, Tuamotu said "they remain untouched by the cyclone's passing."

Although cruise companies Blue Lagoon, Captain Cook and South Sea Cruises temporarily halted operations, they expect to restart within the next day once they receive approval from the Fiji Islands Maritime Safety Administration.

"It is evident that wherever Cyclone Tomas struck, the damage has been overwhelming," Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. "However, the full impact of Tomas in the Northern region, the Lomaiviti and Lau Groups is yet to be determined."

In addition to providing relief supplies, the governments of France, Australia and New Zealand are supplying military aircraft for aerial sureveilance in order to determine more accurate estimates of the damage. The three countries also will provide emergency relief supplies.

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