Fiji’s self-appointed Prime Minister has moved to allay fears that tourists in the country are at risk, after an Australian couple was tied up and robbed aboard their boat.

Gold Coast couple Brian and Jan Dodds were attacked earlier this month when two bandits climbed aboard their yacht as it was moored at a jetty on the main island of Viti Levu.

The men assaulted the couple, tied them up and robbed them. The couple suffered minor injuries.

Media reports linked the crime to figures that showed the number of tourists who reported attacks to police doubled last year compared with 2006.

Fiji’s military leader Frank Bainimarama, who seized power in a coup in December 2006, today said Fiji was a safe travel destination.

“I must say how disturbed I was to have heard about what happened to Mr Brian and Jan Dodds of Brisbane on their yacht cruise to Fiji. I can assure them that those involved will be taken to task by the authorities,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“To single out that incident and use it as a weapon to attack our tourist industry is pointless and outright misleading. I encourage the yachties to continue visiting Fiji in numbers,” he said.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises people who travel to Fiji to exercise caution.