Joy at Tonga airport as first visitors arrive after 28-month ban

 The first foreign travellers have arrived at Tonga’s Fua’amotu international airport, eager to reunite with family and loved ones after a 28-month Covid-19 travel ban.

Dressing visitors with Kahoa kakala at the Fua’amotu international airport. Photo/Tonga Tourism

The kingdom on Monday reopened its border to double-jabbed visitors, ending the restrictions imposed by former Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu’i’onetoa in March 2020.

Tongan citizens who did not complete two vaccination shots have to stay at MIQs on arrival for 5 days or more and they also have to pay for it.

The flood of visitors landed last night was greeted by applause, and dressing of passengers with kahoa kakalas while acoustic band group performing Tongan songs, a solo dance and a kava ceremony.

“It’s good to be back,” said ‘Etu Palu, eager to see family again with his mother Finau Palu, who said it was “good to visit the motherland!”, reported AFP News.

Mele Laiseni told Kaniva News her mum Pua was one of the passengers arriving in Tonga from Auckland last night. Photo/Supplied

As Kaniva News reported last week, the number of incoming flights will be limited to two per week from New Zealand until August 28, and two per week from Fiji and one from Australia throughout August.

From August 29 flights from New Zealand will increase to three each week, and then six flights per week from the beginning of November.

Maritime border

Tonga’s maritime border remains closed.

This meant, yachts and super yachts may have to wait several more months before they can join the party.

“I’ve got 20 boats sitting in Tahiti that want to come to Tonga. Big boats, I’m not talking about little yachts, because they won’t let the yachts come back in here and I don’t know why,” David Hunt, owner of Super Yacht Services Tonga was quoted by AFP as saying.

Moala Mafi from the Ministry of Tourism reportedly  said the government was “still undecided on yachts in Tongan waters”.

“We are still finalising the policy framework for the cruise ships,” he said. “We don’t forget them, but they are in the pipeline”.

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