The Fijian government has just given the green light to a $US200 million project which will see the nation future-proof its tourism industry for decades to come.
In an exclusive interview with Traveltalk, Fiji’s High Commissioner to Australia, David Kolitagane said the loan from the World Bank would initially go towards building infrastructure on Vanua Levu, the country’s second largest island.
Vanua Levu is home to a number of paradisiacal and renowned Fijian resorts near its major airports in Savusavu and Labasa, including Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Namale Resort, Emaho Sekawa Retreat and more.
“This was just passed in parliament last week,” Kolitagane told Traveltalk. “The majority of the funding is going into infrastructure - building roads, supplying water and other facilities. This is designed to support private investment in the tourism sector on Vanua Levu.”
It’s understood that several large hotel chains have already committed to building properties on the largely underdeveloped island, once infrastructure is in place.
According to a press release issued by the World Bank, the move will benefit at least 60,000 Fijians and create 30 locally managed marine reserves. There are three main projects planned over the next 10 years to help Fiji deliver its vision for more sustainable, inclusive and resilient tourism across the country.
“This World Bank-funded program will also help to increase Fiji’s marketability both domestically and internationally, while adopting a community-centred approach to ensure the sustainable management of our precious local resources,” said Fiji Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Biman Prasad.
“This will make travel to and from Vanua Levu more affordable, accessible and convenient,” Minister Prasad said.
When asked if he was concerned at the potential environmental damage such extensive works might cause, Kolitagane said there were protections in place to preserve the environment, the culture and communities of Vanua Levu.
The High Commissioner’s comments came as Fiji Airways launched its inaugural direct service from Canberra to Nadi last week.
Kolitagane described it as “a special and historic occasion” for Fiji and Australia to strengthen their bilateral relations.
“This new twice weekly service from Fiji Airways is not only bridging the distance between Fiji and Australia and the capital, but also building a stronger bond between the two governments and the people of Fiji as well as in the Pacific.
“Through this increased connectivity we will enhance cultural exchange, boost tourism and strengthen trade relationships and promote growth, especially for a small island state like Fiji.”
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