Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations. What does this mean, and how does it affect travellers?
The Commonwealth of Nations used to be the 'British Commonwealth'. It's largely a group of countries that used to be part of the British Empire.
Fiji most recently ran afoul of the Commonwealth leadership in 2006, when Commodore Frank Bainimarama took over the country via a military coup. (It has been in trouble with the Commonwealth before then.) Since then, no elections have been held. Bainimarama insists that the country won't go to the polls until 2014 - a date unacceptable to the Commonwealth.
For everyday Fijians, this doesn't mean much - yet. Commonwealth suspension means that Fiji will no longer have privileged access to communication between Commonwealth governments. Further, it will suffer a reduction in aid and scientific assistance.
However, the bigger story for travellers is that the International Federation of Journalists has called for a tourism boycott of Fiji. Statistics show that tourism to Fiji has already dropped despite low airfares to and prices within Fiji. If the IFJ has its way, tourists would place further pressure on the military government by avoiding the island nation.
Another point of view, though, is that taken by Australian Foreign Minister Steve Smith, who claims that a boycott would hurt only ordinary Fijians rather than the government.
What do you think? Would the Commonwealth suspension affect your view of travelling to Fiji? Would you boycott travelling to a country because of its political situation?