NEW CALEDONIA NEWS

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December 8, 1999
PINA NIUS ONLINE

NEW CALEDONIA CONCEDES NOT MANY TOURISTS EXPECTED FOR HOLIDAY SEASON

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (December 8, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---New Caledonia’s tourism industry now anticipates that fewer tourists will choose the French territory as a destination for the holiday season and millennium celebrations than originally expected, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

"Nothing was done to publicize New Caledonia (as a millennium destination)," New Caledonia Hotel Association President Henri Morini said.

During the holiday season, hotel bookings are expected to be actually lower than normal. Even residents have largely booked overseas to celebrate, Les Nouvelles reported.

"This is a mistake. The impact of the year 2000 should have been tremendous. But we should have thought about that long ago. When you go to Tontouta (New Caledonia’s international airport), you can see advertising posts talking about the Millennium celebrations in Fiji! We should have done the same, for instance, in the Sydney Airport," Morini said.

Restaurant Association President Dominique Lefeivre said, "We should have promoted the fact that New Caledonia will be among the first places in the world to enter the year 2000.

"Instead, the Nouméa municipality only plans to organize a small celebration at midnight. This is very far from what we were entitled to expect."

Even the Japanese, who are usually the keenest to visit the French Territory, will not be here in their usual numbers.

"Many had planned to come and spent some time here, but they eventually cancelled because of the strikes. Tontouta International Airport is not far from being classified as a ‘risk airport.’ We really have to convince the unions that they have to stop these kind of actions," Morini added.

For most of last month, Tontouta operations were seriously disrupted due to a "roving strike" staged by the airport’s "Tontouta Air Service" company, which handles catering, check-in and cleaning.

Those few New Caledonians who are staying home to celebrate are expected to spend more than usual.

"This is the positive side of the year 2000. Those who are staying want to celebrate. And restaurants that usually remain open during the holiday season will, for sure, make a good turnover," Lefeivre said.

Others will choose to celebrate at home and, here again, are expected to spend significantly on French champagne and delicacies.

"Those who never drink champagne will and those who are used to drinking it will drink even more. I have ordered 40% more than other years for the same period, just to be on the safe side," wines and spirits retailer Henry Chombeau said.

Caterers in the French territory’s capital are already heavily booked.

 

NEW CALEDONIA-CANNABIS AUSTRALIAN TOURISTS TOLD TO SMOKE CANNABIS ELSEWHERE

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (December 8, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---Two Australian tourists visiting New Caledonia on a stopover from the cruise liner Fair Princess were politely, but firmly asked to share cultural and cannabis-smoking experiences elsewhere, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The two, whose names were not disclosed, are young Australians in their twenties.

They arrived in New Caledonia last Saturday aboard the Fair Princess during one of its regular calls on the French territory.

A Nouméa municipal police patrol found them on Saturday night, sharing a cannabis joint with a young Melanesian man. The policeman kindly asked them to show interest in "other vegetal species, for instance the beautiful flowers on the Place des Cocotiers (Coconut square, Nouméa’s focal point)," Les Nouvelles reports. He then let them go.

The young Melanesian was not so lucky. He was arrested and faces charges of possession and consumption of drugs that he readily produced from his bag and pockets, without a search needed.

 

NEW CALEDONIA-FLOODS TWO SOUTHERN VILLAGES ISOLATED BY FLOODS

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (December 8, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---The two villages of Goro and Port-Boisé (near Yaté, southeast of New Caledonia’s main island) are still isolated due to the floods resulting from last weekend’s exceptionally heavy rains, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The two nearby rivers, the Kubini and Kue, are still at flood level, and telephone service remains cut off.

South New Caledonia experienced extreme weather last weekend, with uninterrupted rains and destructive winds that caused serious damage to many properties.

 

NEW CALEDONIA EXPORTS FIRST TON OF LYCHEE TO JAPAN

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (December 8, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---New Caledonia has exported its first shipment of lychee fruit to Japan and is to send a total of ten tons this month, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

Since last month, lychee farmers in the French territory have been depositing their production at Tontouta International Airport’s quarantine section for cold treatment, to eradicate pests and prepare the fruit for shipment.

The operation, which also includes packaging, takes place under the supervision of "Arbofruits," a group of fruit farmers in New Caledonia.

Export is arranged by France Calédonie Tropic Export, a company which also specializes in the shipment of New Caledonia’s squash pumpkins to Japan.

Lychee currently are earning 300 French Pacific Francs (CFP, about US$ 3) per kilogram. Producers also receive a small subsidy from the territory to cover shipping costs.

Lychee harvesting occurs mainly once a year, in November and December.

 

NEW CALEDONIAN CONGRESS REVIVES DEFUNCT SERVICE TAX

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (December 8, 1999 - PINA Nius Online)---New Caledonia’s Congress has reinstated a four percent tax on services (TGS), which is to come into force on New Year’s day, RFO-radio reports.

Originally introduced in New Caledonia in late 1993 (under the name of TGPS and at a rate of three percent), it was suspended in January 1996.

Authorities here expect the TGS (Taxe Générale sur les Services) to earn some 125 million French Pacific Francs (about US$ 1.2 million) by the end of fiscal year 2000.

The tax comes as part of a wider fiscal reform currently being undertaken in New Caledonia, which also features a general import tax (TGI).

New Caledonia’s recently formed government has stressed that the reinstatement of the service tax became necessary again in order to collect funds to finance the anticipated costs related to implementation of the Nouméa Accord (signed in May 1998).

The accord, while paving the way for possible independence of New Caledonia in "15 to 20" years, also includes the gradual transfer of some competencies (including foreign affairs, labor, immigration, citizenship) from metropolitan France to the New Caledonian government.

The accord is to be implemented by a yet-to-be-drafted "organic law," which will be presented to French legislators next year for approval.

This bulletin was produced by the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA). Editor: Patrick Antoine Decloitre E-mail: padec@iname.com 

For more information, contact Nina Ratulele, PINA Administrator, at pina@is.com.fj 

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Damodar Centre, 1st Floor 46 Gordon Street Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands Tel: (679) 303 623 Fax : (679) 303 943 Postal Address: PINA, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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