Fiji greets its first tourists in 2 years with traditional dance: ‘I got chills’

Fiji hosted its first tourists in two years and gave them the warmest welcome. 

For the past two years, the country banned travelers due to the pandemic. With vaccination rates up, Fiji has now allowed visitors from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, Spain, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. The nation managed to mitigate COVID-19 with its high vaccination rate, as over 90% of Fiji’s adult population has received two doses of the vaccine. 

Footage of Fijians greeting tourists with a meke dance made its way to social media. A meke dance is a spiritual folk dance that combines movement and storytelling through song. 

In a meke dance, the vakatara (or orchestra) beat sticks, bamboo tubes and gongs to create the music, while the daunivucu leads the performance with the matana or dancers following along. The participants also wear flower garlands around their neck called salusaluThis is precisely what tourists walked into at the airport when their planes landed. 

There were dozens of energetic performers dancing and singing. People gathered around the spectacle to take photos. Finally reconnecting with others in person was certainly something lots of people wanted to celebrate. 

“I got chills. This was beautiful,” one person commented

“I was probably one of the last ones two years ago… They always welcome you with songs at the airport, but this one looks special,” another noted.

“I’m so happy for them. Tourists are their main source of revenue so I can understand their joy,” someone wrote

Tourism makes up 40% of Fiji’s economy. Thus, the travel ban hit the country hard, increasing its unemployment rate to 10%. To prevent virus spread and another lockdown, tourists must stay at a resort for three days and undergo rapid testing before visiting other areas. 

“To see the Fiji Airways plane full up and for us to welcome those tourists today was so amazing. It was a great, great feeling, and I’m glad to have been there personally,” James Sowane, director of the Fiji tourism company Tewaka, said according to CNN

More from In The Know:

Kevin Leonel is the designer turning sports jerseys into custom streetwear

6 festive dresses under $60 to wear to holiday celebrations at Nordstrom Rack

Don't wait — winter boots are up to 50% off right now at DSW

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: