LIFE IN FIJI RETURNING TO NORMAL

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By Graeme Dobell

SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 17, 2000 – Radio Australia)---After two months of political turmoil, life in Fiji is returning to some sense of normalcy with schools and tourist resorts reopening.

Turtle Island, which was taken over by villagers last week, reopened after the ownership dispute was settled by a $10,000 payment.

Tourists from Australia, New Zealand and the United States were evacuated from the resort.

The tourism industry said political strife and disruptions by landowners have cut visitor arrivals to Fiji by two-thirds.

Fiji's hotel sector said occupancy rates have dropped to 30 percent during what is normally its peak season.

Also, Fiji's schools are re-opening today after eight weeks of disruption because of the political crisis.

Twice during the siege of Parliament, Fiji's Education Ministry tried to re-open schools, but incidents of violence forced them to remain shut.

Suva's night curfew has been relaxed; it now starts two hours later at 10:00 p.m.

But Fiji's main island suffers power cuts because of a landowner occupation of the key hydroelectric station.

Rebel unrest still plagues the northern town of Lambasa and a standoff continues at Fiji's maximum security prison.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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