FIJI OPTIMISTIC ABOUT TOURISM DESPITE ASIAN CRISIS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 18, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Fiji is confident about earning substantially more from tourism this year than it did last year, despite the effects of the Asian economic crisis.

Tourism Minister David Pickering said Fiji has not only held its market share but combined with a series of marketing initiatives by the Fiji Visitors Bureau, also has increased visitor arrivals from all its major source markets.

He made the comments at Fiji's National Tourism Forum in Nadi.

Pickering warned, however, that with the financial crisis still gripping Asia, and with predictions that this will affect Fiji's primary markets, the country will have to work harder to maintain its competitiveness.

He said although there are suggestions that more marketing funds would help, the challenge ahead will not just be about asking for more money, but for the public sector to match private sector's energy, enterprise and innovation.

FIJI HOTELIERS BLAME LAND DISPUTES AND CRIME FOR SLOW GROWTH

SUVA, Fiji (December 18, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji Hotel Association (FHA) has blamed lawlessness and disputes with landowners for the slow growth in the hotel industry.

FHA President Olivia Pareti said investors are reluctant about investing because of disputes over land and fishing rights and increased crime.

She made the comments at the National Tourism Forum in Nadi.

Pareti said there has been an alarming increase in armed robberies targeting businesses, tourists and hotels.

She also expressed concern about the increase in disputes between tourism operators and fishing rights owners.

Pareti said dissatisfied fishing rights owners often feel they have been deprived of the use of their traditional fishing grounds through tourism and other commercial activities.

The Ministry of Tourism recorded 24 disputes related to fishing rights up to March.

The FHA feels traditional fishing groups should be compensated for being deprived of use of their fishing areas.

Pareti said the government should not only look at compensation laws for tourism, but also try to resolve such grievances and disputes.

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