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The Fiji government has implemented a VAT refund scheme for tourists in a bid to boost Fiji's profile as a visitor destination.

Tourists spending FJD$500 or more while in Fiji can now claim a tax refund upon departure commencing today as part of a renewed drive by the government to enhance Fijiís profile as a tourist destination.

The Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority (FIRCA) and its designated refund agency, the ANZ Bank, have signed an agreement Friday formalising the new Tourist VAT Refund Scheme.

Under the agreement, departing visitors can collect their refunds at the ANZ Nadi International Airport branch or the Suva Wharf for cruise liner travellers.

FIRCA CEO Jitoko Tikolevu said the scheme would boost the tourism industry further and position Fiji as a competitive shopping destination for tourists.

"As a start, the actual refund will be paid out in Fijian dollars with credit card options to be explored later," Tikolevu said.

Refunds, exempt of service fees, can also be paid in a foreign currency using ANZís currency listing.

An estimated $1.7 million is expected to be paid out in refunds this year.

Norman Wilson, ANZ CEO for the central Pacific and general manager Fiji said the joint venture would strengthen ANZ's relationship with the Fiji government, while sustaining its foreign exchange business.

Eligible visitors must be over 13 years and spend FJD$500 or more in a VAT registered outlet. Refunds are valid for a two-month period.

Fiji citizens and holders of Fiji passports are exempted from the scheme. The exemption also covers those working in Fiji for the past six months and members of airline flight crews.

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