LOW OCCUPANCY FORCING FIJI HOTEL LAY OFFS

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SUVA, Fiji (January 18, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Occupancy in Fiji's resort hotels is down compared to last year at this time, forcing two major properties to lay off about 140 casual workers.

Tourism officials place part of the blame on economic downturns in Japan, South Korea, and other Asian countries, resulting in reduced visitor arrivals, The Daily Post newspaper reports.

General Manager of the Sheraton Resort Denarau, Niel Palmer, said the Sheraton Fiji Resort had to lay off 100 casual workers because the hotel's occupancy rate was only 50 per cent. The Sheraton Denarau was down to 40 percent occupancy, resulting in approximately 40 additional lay offs. He added, however, that the 790 permanent workers at the two hotels are not affected.

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