The International Federation of Journalists wants travellers to rethink any plans to holiday in Fiji.
Fiji is facing suspension from the Commonwealth at midnight Tuesday (local time) for its slow progress towards a return to democracy.
Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who led the December 2006 coup in Fiji, has refused to bow to Commonwealth and regional pressure to hold elections sooner than 2014.
The editor of the Fiji Times newspaper, Netani Rika, told a recent journalism conference in Brisbane that Australians appear to have no idea how lucky they are to have a voice through free media.
The International Federation of Journalists Sydney-based spokeswoman, Deborah Muir, has told Radio Australia anyone thinking of holidaying in Fiji should reconsider.
“What Netani Rika says is it’s unnerving to know that tourists from Australia and elsewhere, other free countries, would still be going to their resort holidays seemingly oblivious to the fact that Fiji is being administered by a dictatorship,” she said.
“Fiji is no paradise right now. Any advertising campaign that says it is a paradise is false advertising.
“The International Federation of Journalists would strongly urge people who are considering holidays in Fiji to think twice about it and to use the rights that they have in the free countries in which they live to inform themselves what is happening elsewhere in the world.”
But Frank Yourn, executive director of the Australia-Fiji Business Council, says it is the innocent that will suffer, not the interim government.
“I think it’s important that people who are considering this understand the impact that a decision like that would have on the ordinary people of Fiji, the people who are employed in the tourism industry and the various industries that surround the tourism industry,” Mr Yourn said.
“It’s not a matter of propping up the dictatorship; it’s really a matter of trying to ensure the economic survival of people who are really suffering quite badly.”
Since the December 2006 coup, Fiji has suffered severe floods as well as the effects of the global economic downturn and Mr Yourn says many workers in the tourism industry have lost their jobs or have had their working hours reduced.
Ms Muir agrees any further reduction in tourist numbers will affect the economy and consequently the Fiji people.
“Tourists who go there blithely unaware of the reality of the quite severe repressions being inflicted on the people of Fiji are supporting a dictatorship with their tourist dollars,” she said.