The word from the Fiji government is that surfers can, beginning Friday July 9 access any local surf break without need to obtain permission from any person or land holding group.
The purpose of the decree, reports the Fiji Times, is to "encourage and promote Fiji as a premier surfing destination, promote surfing as a sport, maximise development and training of local talented surfers, and also for locals to engage more profitably in the surfing industry."
"Any person who obstructs or prevents any person from accessing or using any surfing area for surfing or for any water sportshall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine and or imprisonment.," said tourism czar Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to the Times. He said that the previous arrangement that provided surfing areas to be exclusively licensed hotel (such as Tavarua) deprived both tourists and Fijians access to the world class breaks.
Sayed-Khaiyum also stated that "numerous reports had been received of tourists and Fijian surfers being physically and violently harassed and assaulted for surfing" in the areas liscensed by the hotels.
Free access and use of all surfing areas in Fiji to all tourists and Fijians, said Sayed-Khaiyum, offered an opportunity for all Fijians, including landowners near the surfing breaks, to profit directly and indirectly by way of engaging in businesses themselves.
"The surfing industry is a global USD$10 billion dollar business and Fiji is home to some world class breaks known throughout the surfing world. There is enormous worldwide interest in surfing in Fiji given the quality and range of surf breaks in Fiji," he said. "The Decree paves the way forward for all Fijians to now engage more profitably in the surfing industry as surf-tour operators, life savers, surfing-specialised hotels, backpacker resorts, and home stays."
Sayed-Khaiyum said that opening up of surfing in Fiji, could add an additional 20,000 surfing tourists a year.
This story is based on an earlier report from the Fiji Times
More news on this to come!