VISITOR INCREASE BOOSTS TONGAN TOURISM EARNINGS

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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (May 10, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The Reserve Bank of Tonga recorded an increase of 500,000 pa'anga ($US 300,000) in foreign exchange earnings from tourism last year compared to 1996.

A total of 16.4 million pa'anga ($US10.6 million) was collected in 1997 compared to 15.9 million pa'anga ($US 10.3 million) the prior year, Radio Tonga reports.

About 26,000 tourists visited the kingdom last year, an increase of 6.5 percent over 1996 arrivals.

Most of the visitors came from New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

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